A lack of hard work, money, or skills is not the reason most business partnerships fail; it is the inability of founders to manage the conflict from things like ideas, personalities, and goals. One small fight can lead to bigger and bigger problems until the entire startup fails resulting in wasted time, effort and money. A proper approach to managing conflict in your startup can lead to stronger relationships with your business partners and a more successful company overall. A key step to managing conflict is preparation.

Some preparation is better than none at all, but a detailed and thoughtful plan yields the highest chances of success.  The worst approach is to “wing it” with little to no preparation.  Being unprepared to discuss an issue is highly likely to result in an unacceptable outcome.

Good preparation begins with:

  • The problem being written out clearly (you have to know what the problem is to create a solution)
  • The problem being reviewed by one or two skilled parties (you get confirmation that you’ve identified the problem correctly)
  • Several potential outcomes being identified, acceptable and unacceptable, with responses for each (you have thought about the options and can explain your position)

Scenario planning of this nature avoids surprises and shows those involved you respected their concern sufficiently to plan for it effectively.

Finally, role-playing with a skilled partner is often desirable when the stakes are high and the outcome is in question. Role-playing readies you for the unexpected and develops quick thinking skills. Videotaping the role-play can reveal useful information about your body language and inconsistent forms of communication. If a person’s words and body language don’t match you send a mixed message.

Most people are afraid of confrontation as it is uncomfortable and stressful. Reframe managing conflict as a necessary part of your responsibility as a startup founder. Consider managing conflict as a way to increase the value of your startup.

For more information about Managing Conflict visit university.ventureforge.co