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Coach Soch: When co founders need to stay invested — both in equity and emotions

Coach Soch: When co-founders need to stay invested — both in equity and emotions

Coach Soch: When co-founders need to stay invested — both in equity and emotions
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By Srinath Sridharan  Oct 17, 2022 10:27:26 AM IST (Updated)

A short business narrative that sets the context, challenge(s) faced, the type of leadership involved and the questions to ponder about, to solve for the issues. This is not to give answers; for business & life in general is not like a school-guide-book. This column is to provoke the reader to think more. And to sensitise that each individual or organisation are unique, and the answers would depend on the situation, difference in organisational culture, context, etc.

To question, is to think.

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To think, is to introspect.

To introspect, is to seek.
To seek, is to be aware.
To be aware, is when the journey begins.
Co-founders & discontent
Do you feel that your co-founder gets more attention than you?
Does your colleague seem to get the limelight in the media and with investors? Does this irk you that you don't, despite being an equal partner in the venture?
Do you feel a sense of isolation from your teams? That your co-founder gets better respect and his inputs are valued more?
Are you frustrated about the degree of control and influence you can exercise at work?
The important point is to ensure that you understand your feelings and emotions and how to handle the situation calmly. Negative emotions or reactions won't solve anything.
Sharing the feeling
Have you spoken to your co-founder about the above?
Have you shared any of your feelings with your family?
Or have you shared any of these with your mentor and figured out how to handle them?
Even if the difference or disagreement between co-founders is slight, it needs to be addressed before it becomes a larger wound. Not all conflicts are destructive. Having different views and philosophies on how to approach work is okay. As long as your cultural ethos and values are shared.
Before the hectic pace of a startup, most co-founders don't get to address the smaller differences between themselves. They are busy solving for their consumers and trying to make an impact at work while their personal differences build up without being seen. The issues have to be sorted while there is trust. The challenge is if there is an erosion of trust between the partners.
The reason one feels strongly about any difference between co-founders is simply this: that relationship is the most serious one you have bet on in your life. You pegged this rapport with your co-founder to work the best for your venture. You don't want to get it messed up, so you feel strongly about it. Sometimes small irritating things build up, you end up misinterpreting each other, and productive meetings become nasty digs at each other.
Unstructured conversations
As co-founders, you might be busy with your daily routine and various business meetings. You might even be irritated by or at some of these meetings.
When was the last time you set aside time for your conversations?
Not just business discussions but simply unstructured conversations about anything random. Remember that when you were getting into the co-founder groove, you might have shared conversations on cricket, cycling, pet peeves, and almost everything possible. Isn't it time to get that chemistry slowly back on track?
Why are informal conversations underrated? Why do we chase only formalities? Informal and unstructured conversations between co-founders help both of you relax. You don't have to be guarded against each other. It builds trust and personal rapport.
Trust is the critical element in your partnership; you need to strengthen it constantly. Trust is what allows you to break perceptions, gossip, and rumours. It helps you support each other and your decisions without prejudging each other. More importantly, it will allow you to handle any differences of views between the two of you.
You might have had a great rapport at the early stages of your venture. But as your venture grows, and when you have more employees and consumers, your time availability shortens. Usually, you might have not spent adequate time - talking to one another. Having less time with each other, just like any other personal relationship - small things build up. You just have to start spending time. There is no alternative to it.
Start sharing your concerns and issues that you need each other’s views and support, or simply even to vent your frustration at something.
In short, that’s another reminder of why both of you are co-founders and need to stay invested in yourselves and the venture. The success of your relationship is directly correlated to the success of your business. Both of you need to stay invested in each other, not just in venture equity but also emotionally.
— The author, Srinath Sridharan is a Corporate Adviser and Independent Markets Commentator.
For other articles in the Coach Soch series, click here.
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