Seventy-seven percent of venture backed tech companies have more than one founder. (1) That means most people with entrepreneurial inclinations need to learn to play well with partners.
I kind of understood this when I launched my first company with friends. I'd definitely heard horror stories about partnerships gone wrong. "It's like a bad marriage, but without the occasional make-up sex," said one particularly candid mentor.
In all honesty, early on I didn't think much about what made a great partnership. Times were good--a high point was when a local business coach described our executive team as a "celestial example."
All that changed when I found myself in a partnership facing real turbulence for the first time ... and my seat belt was not securely fastened. It was an opportunity to reflect deeply about what matters to me when it comes to a partnership. And more importantly, of course, what kind of partner I want to be myself.
What are your standards for a great partnership? Here are mine:
We believe in each other. And we celebrate our big wins as evidence that our belief is well-placed.
I once asked an older friend if he was truly glad that he married his wife many decades ago. He smiled and said, "Most days."
We should all want to be right where we are, building our company together ... at least, most of the time.
In our inner circle, we call it like we see it, even when that means having hard conversations. This comes from a place of caring about each other--and our business--so much that we won't let fear or guilt or anything else get in the way of vulnerable communication. To borrow lines from the poet George...