Power struggles can arise in any relationship and in any environment. When it comes to running a business with a co-founder, power struggles can range from choosing a carpet for the new office, to making decisions about selling the company. Equipping yourself with ways to manage power struggles is critical to avoid negatively impacting your business and your employees.
Having run a business with a co-founder for close to a decade now, I’ve learned that you need to go back to the basics to successfully overcome power struggles. Here are four tips that helped me overcome them—from the simplest, to the most complex.
One of the biggest misconceptions that business owners have is the belief that every decision will be made in partnership. While equity is important when dealing with business matters, it’s not always the most efficient way to make decisions. A few years into my own business, I realized that joint decisions are the ideal and not the norm. However, decisions still have to be made.
Rather than thinking every decision will be made in joint agreement, decide early on who will be responsible for running different parts of the business. In my case, I found that running operations and leading innovation was my strength, leaving financials and the books to my co-founder. This allowed us to be accountable to each other for these areas and make the best decisions.
By defining roles, you create a framework that allows each party to exercise power. Leverage each of your strengths, and decide who will be responsible for making decisions about different aspects of the business. This way, when a power struggle arises, the final word rests with the co-founder responsible for that area of the business.
More often than not, a power struggle is kindled by misunderstandings. Rather than assuming your co-founder understands your rationale, make it clear to them. As an avid systems guy, I’m always looking for technology to enhance, automate, or simplify our day-to-day duties. My co-founder and I had a big debate over switching our customer communications to a customer support software system. However, as I demonstrated the benefits from both the employee and customer side—from the first contact to resolution—my partner warmed up to the idea. We’ve since had tremendous success with the new streamlined system.
By visualizing what the decision really means, your co-founder will be more open to listening and much more comfortable with the final decision. When painting a picture of the decision, think both short term and long term. Seeing how your decision will impact the business can help your partner warm up to the idea. It can also help you discover things you may not have considered before.
As the founder and CEO of OneIMS and Clickx, Solomon Thimothy has built his career around his passion for helping other businesses grow an online presence and thrive in the digital world. Solomon works with clients big and small to develop uniquely customized and highly effective marketing strategies that meet every company’s individual goals.
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