Here are three tips for minimizing misunderstandings among co-founders: get clarity on the problem before arguing over solutions, maintain full transparency about spending, and work from a one-page operating plan.
Three Tips for Minimizing Misunderstandings Among Co-Founders
- Before you criticize a proposed course of action ask “What is the problem we are trying to solve?”
- Goals – What are the goals we are trying to achieve (or non-goals we are trying to avoid)
- Roles – Who should do what, based on relative competency and competing objectives
- Process – How will we solve the problem. A lot of process arguments turn out to be disagreements on either goals or roles. If you find yourself arguing a lot about the “how” make sure you agree on goals and roles.
- Maintain full transparency on spending.
- With two founders always have one person write the checks and the other person sign them.
- Approve each other’s expenses.
- Everyone should have the right to review the checkbook, check register, and deposit list on a regular basis.
- Give everyone on the founding team read access to QuickBooks.
- Maintain a one page operating plan that lists:
- Key assumptions about your business (and which you plan to validate in the next year)
- Key near term objectives for each team member
- A brief description of who your customer is and what problem you solve for them.
- Keep it to one page so that it’s long enough to ensure everyone is in sync, short enough so that everyone can easily understand it, and simple enough so that it’s easy to revisit and revise every four to six weeks in response to what you have learned, accomplished, and now hope to accomplish.