What was the moment you knew you had to break up with your business partner/co-founder?

It’s happened to me twice, that “moment”. It was the same thing both times:

When they didn’t show up to a critical meeting.

Founder conflict is unfortunately pretty common. I was blessed in my first start-up to never have a second of it. That’s really about as good as it gets in start-up land. Since then, I’ve always had some, to varying degrees. In the end, almost all founder conflict comes from asymmetric commitment.

It’s hard to deal with a situation where you are more committed than a co-founder, but my lesson learned is at least try. Even a 95% commitment from someone that can do magic can be a decent bridge strategy at least. So my general advice is try harder! At least try to make it last a little longer if they are insanely talented.

But below a 95% commitment doesn’t work.

The classic one for me is when they just don’t show up to something important. No notice, no heads-up, no email or Slack ahead of time. They just don’t show up.

That’s something founders just have to do — you gotta show up.

Not going may be a natural reaction to stress, a need to take a break, etc. It’s not done out of malice, or lack of Google Calendar skills. It’s just something folks that disengage do, for some reason.

But my learning is when you see this sign — it’s too late. It can’t be fixed. They don’t have the minimum commitment to make it happen.

Move on to Plan B.

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Published on June 28, 2018

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