How to Make Sure Your Startup Doesn't Fail

Date: May 15, 2014

3 tips to keep your new business afloat.

Whom you choose as your business partner could be the most important business decision you will make. According to Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman, 65 percent of promising startups fail due to conflicts among co-founders. Disagreements over leadership, money, strategy and credit are often to blame.

So how do you stay afloat?

Find the Yin to Your Yang

“A lot of conflict surfaces over who’s going to do what,” says Sacramento, Calif.-based venture capitalist Roger Akers, who has helped grow more than 40 startups. Begin by choosing a partner whose skill set complements your own.

Tracie Broom and Debi Schadel, owners of NFIB member company Flock and Rally, a public relations company in Columbia, S.C., avoided role disputes by collaborating as contractors before sealing the deal. Broom excelled in writing and content development, and Schadel in marketing strategy and implementation.

“This made us stronger instead of putting us in competition with each other,” Schadel says.

Record Strategic and Financial Goals Regularly

Don’t just assume your partner will be on board with your unique Twitter marketing idea. Partners must sit down to hammer out details regarding all strategies and goals that will impact the company.

Whether weekly or quarterly, Akers suggests building those conversations into recurring management meetings. This also forces partners to share their visions about how to invest money before it becomes an issue.

Get Outside Opinions

Egos can sink an otherwise successful company, so Akers urges startups to bring in a board of advisors, mentors or consultants to provide a more neutral perspective on important business decisions.

“When money starts to come in, then the whole battle of who gets what starts,” Akers says. Outside experts will help partners set their egos aside and create beneficial expectations for the company as a whole.

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