Image: Inner conflict - G. Wagner Granizio
1. Be selective when entering a business relationship.
This has the same characteristics as a marriage. It is important to look into what you’re expecting from this business marriage and whether your values match.
Conflicts about interests can be resolved but conflicts about values can’t. For example, if one business partner is mainly driven by ‘earning money’ (and exit) and the other is mainly focused on ‘being meaningful’, it will probably cause trouble in the long run.
When the business relationship was built from a friendship, family- or love
relationship, it is also an essential point of attention. There is a lot to lose in these cases when things go wrong.
2. Check whether the equity ratio reflects the mutual relationship.
What do you expect from each other? Can a possible difference in number of shares be justified?
For example, when a person has invested more money or is ‘the
founding father/mother’ of the idea, is everyone okay with this difference?
And how do you keep this topic on the agenda when, for example, the
company enters another phase?
3. Be careful with giving away shares.
You can only give them away once. It’s difficult to separate when it comes to shareholders.
4. Address issues in an early stage, also delicate issues.
Postponing to address issues can lead to conflicts because things will accumulate and might escalate.
5. Speak about your intensions regularly
Check whether they (still) match with your business partner. What do you want, what do you expect and what are you hoping for?
6. Check regularly whether you understand everything correctly.
Everyone has a different frame of reference and because of that also a different perception.
7. Unconscious, unfulfilled, unspoken needs are a source of conflict.
Speak from within and about your own needs instead of making reproaches to the other person. If you are dissatisfied, check with yourself what kind of needs you have.
What is the dissatisfaction? Need for freedom, autonomy, equality,
recognition, to be taken seriously? As soon as you speak up (which
sometimes requires some vulnerability), it will form a lot of possibilities to
meet this need. It lies in the nature of mankind to help another person with
8. Be aware of projection and the shadow side of your personality.
You can speak of projection when you try to deny, conceal or repress emotions of yourself by attributing them to something or someone else. It is a defense mechanism. Learn to be aware of yourself in an honest way.
9. Set clear goals and make a division of roles.
Also if you want to create a flexible organization, it is advisable to set goals and roles. You can always adjust it when needed.
10. Discuss exceptional circumstances even if not relevant yet.
What if one of the partners becomes incapable for work or dies? What is the impact on the business? How do you want to handle these kind of
Annemarie van Raay, Partner-Mediation Amsterdam, February 2018