How to Resolve Conflict with Your Business Partner

Dealing with co-founder or business partner conflict is an unfortunate reality of starting a business. When working with another person, there is bound to be disagreements that arise, but how you handle them is what sets successful partner duos apart from the rest.

Successful business partners are able to embrace conflict effectively to reach a compromise where both parties are satisfied. It’s likely that many business partnerships are going to be put under strain due to the current health crisis. It’s important to be well versed in conflict management with your business partner — especially during times of economic uncertainty. 

Although dealing with conflict can be difficult, we have outlined some tips to make resolving cofounder conflict as painless as possible.


Conflict is Inevitable

While some conflict in the workplace is inevitable, you can work to minimize the negative impacts of it by being responsible and ensuring that both parties feel their voices are being heard. Here are some of the best ways to embrace conflict to find a solution together. 

  • Make an action plan: Conflict is an unavoidable part of building a business, but having a plan of action of what to do when conflict arises can help prevent awkward and difficult conversations later on. Some elements to include are who is in charge of which sectors of your business, responsibility division and conflict resolution actions.
  • Address the conflict: While it’s natural to want to avoid conflict, in a business setting it is essential to address and work through the conflict with your partner. Maturely addressing the conflict and finding a solution can also give your team a good example of company culture and values moving forward. 
  • Take time to understand both sides: When addressing conflict, it’s essential to take a look at both sides of the argument. It can be easy to view your position as the correct one, but taking the time to listen to your partner’s point of view is a crucial step in creating a solid foundation for your business. 
  • Create a solution together: By working together to create a solution, you can ensure that both parties feel heard and respected. If you aren’t able to come to an agreement, commit to spending a longer amount of time working through the problem together until you are able to find a compromise.


Creating Healthy Boundaries

Did you know that 43 percent of startup co-founders end up splitting up? To prevent your startup from becoming a part of that unfortunate statistic, use the tips below to create healthy boundaries with your business partner. 

  • Hear everyone’s ideas out: when you come to a big decision, listen to everyone’s opinion before deciding what to do. 
  • Agree to move past it: Sometimes, you have to agree to disagree. When this happens, it’s best to fully put it to rest so arguments or tension doesn’t surface later on. 
  • Don’t sit on a disagreement: When you know you’re going to have a difficult conversation, don’t put it off. Have the talk and find a solution ASAP rather than letting it fester, making the problem worse later on. 
  • Find a personality match: It’s essential to find a partner who shares the same values and is a personality match for you. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person, so finding someone that you get along with is a necessity.


Tips To Handle Conflicts

Embracing conflict is a difficult reality of being a co-founder, so it’s important to understand the best ways to handle conflict for yourself and your team. Below are some tips to help you embrace and work through conflict with your business partner.


Stay True to Your Stance

When a conflict arises, it can sometimes seem easier just to “let this one slide”, but over time, tension or arguments can arise from feeling like a pushover — so it’s important to stick to your stance once you have solid reasoning behind it.


Don’t Force Your Decision on Others

On the other hand, being too aggressive and forcing your opinion on others can lead to problems. Hear your partner’s opinion out and work to understand it before trying to find a solution together.


Have Data-Based Arguments

If possible, try to have data to back up your point of view, so you and your business partner can come to a decision based on evidence rather than opinion. Using data as evidence can lead to more informed opinions and an outcome that both parties are satisfied with.


Seek Professional Help

If you and your partner are unable to work through an issue together, it’s worth seeking professional help from an executive coach or a T-group. An executive coach is an unbiased professional who can offer advice, while a T-group is a training group that deals with teaching professionals to discuss arguments fairly and professionally.


No Resolution?

Sometimes, the best solution is not to find a solution at all. If you and your business partner are unable to come to an agreement on a big issue, it may be a sign that its time to part ways. However, just because you have separated does not mean that your startup is going to fail — you can opt to continue solo, or work to find a new co-founder that is a better match for you. 

If you’re looking to find a new co-founder, great places to look include incubators, founder dating apps, startup forums, and universities. With so much information available at our fingertips on the internet, it’s becoming easier than ever to find the right professional match for you. 

Finding the right business partner is absolutely essential for your startup to succeed. Whether you are working through conflicts with your current co-founder or on the hunt to find a new one, Embroker has shared some of their best strategies for dealing with co-founder conflict below.

EB Resolving Cofounder Conflict IG

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