The statistics for business partnerships are even more dismal than those for marriage. Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman’s research, outlined in his book, “The Founder’s Dilemmas,” finds that 65% of startups fail as a result of cofounder conflict. All is not lost, however. The good news is that something can be done. For spouses, the earlier in the marriage the couple starts implementing what Finkel calls “The Marriage Hack,” the better. Co-founders can do this too. Here’s how it works:
When everything is perfect on paper, and you have the right partner for you and the business looks like it is going to be a great success, then it is time to take pause and see if your vision may be clouded by the excitement and the assumptions that each of you may be making. You may think you are on the same page from many late night brainstorming sessions, but there needs to be more thought and serious introspection, both individually and together, about the deeper functions of this new relationship.
It has been said that you can never guarantee that you and your partner will get along tomorrow as well as you do today. You may get along great today, but tomorrow, whether it is an outside force that becomes a challenge to your business or an internal change that may challenge the survival of your company, it is important to be able to depend on your partner to rise and meet the challenges together.
The “Conscious Contracts” model is an alternative to the traditional model of confusing legalese and unclear expectations. It emphasizes communication between the parties, thoughtful drafting in plain English, and a commitment to using the contracting process to create a workable relationship that empowers the parties to resolve conflicts as they arise, especially in the face of unforeseen complications.