Partnerships Aren’t Perfect

I’ve noticed a pattern in the lives of people I admire most in life. They tend to be members of great partnerships that contributed to their success. Co-founders . . . business partners . . . spouses. Being part of a team has allowed them to accomplish things they otherwise wouldn’t have. Because their strengths offset their partner’s weaknesses, and vice versa, they form a well-rounded team.

Almost universally, great partnerships go through rough patches. It happened to Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Such a time is a defining moment for the partnership, and how the partners work through it will determine whether their partnership becomes stronger or dies. The partners don’t see eye to eye, but if they make the effort to understand each other and resolve points of conflict in a respectful way, it will demonstrate commitment to the partnership and go a long way toward moving past the period of conflict.

I’m a huge fan of co-founders. I think startups increase their chances of success by having more than one founder. But it’s almost inevitable that the co-founders won’t always get along. If this happens to you, consider taking a step back to think carefully about how you want to resolve the rift. In fact, you might even consider planning for it in advance. Your approach will have a lasting impact on your partnership—not to mention your business and your life.