Startup Advice & Strategy
Brian Mac Mahon is the Founder of the Startup Accelerator Expert Dojo and he often gets asked; “How do I avoid hiring the wrong team members?” You may think this is an isolated point that doesn’t necessarily relate to you, but the majority of partnerships in business fail. The majority, not the minority! So what that means is in the same way that many marriages don’t go to distance and we are sure at the beginning that it is going to be everything that our life was meant to be, it’s the exact same with partners in business. Here are Brian Mac Mahon’s advices on how to avoid a partnership divorce:
Follow Your Guts
There is no right or wrong when it comes to having partners and who’s “the goodie” and who’s “the baddie.” It’s a question of perspective. Your perspective as a partner of how you have been treated in your business will be different to your partner’s perspective even though it’s exactly the same circumstances. And not only that, the people who are around us individually would be giving us advice based on what’s fair and what’s not fair. Therefore Mr. Mac Mahon would say at the beginning, a lot of time your gut will tell you whether someone is a good partner or a bad partner.
Also, check references. Most startup founders never check references when it comes to partners, or to their first hires. They are just so happy that anybody will join their startup and are so grateful that they’re there. Mr. Mac Mahon doesn’t mean that it’s a formal official reference with people. Play it smart, because these are people you are relying your entire professional existence on.
Create a Contract
Have a contract. For God’s sake, don’t think that someone who your close friend would never do anything to you because when you were kids you were the best. No, have a contract. If you really love your friend, if you really respect this person, then you respect them enough to make sure there is a specific written contract that speaks. The important part speaks to how you are going to divorce. What are you going to do at the end when it doesn’t work out? It has to be written in your contract. The second thing you need to put in your contract is exactly what are you are going to do on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean; “oh, I’m going to do sales and you are going to do technology. Yeah, we got this.” No, you don’t got this. Brian explains that you need to be very detailed; “from 8 o’clock in the morning, or 7, or 6, or 5, to when you finish at night, what are the specific tasks that you are saying that you’re going to do?” Because it’s only when you lay out these tasks and your partner lays out your tasks that you can see is it fair what you are both doing. And if you reach a stage in 3, 6, 9 months when one partner feels aggrieved, then you both deal with it and you both deal with it there and then. But it is so much easier if you have laid out these tasks at the beginning, if you have laid out the contract that says what will happen if people do not do what they are supposed to do. It is so much easier then to say, “Okay, now before this turns into a horrible, nasty, vicious divorce where we hate each other and neither or us want the other to get the kids, we actually deal with it nice and early when we still like each other and we still want the company to be successful.”
Lastly, Brian adds one caveat to how important this truly is. He sees companies fail every day because of a bad product. He sees companies fail every day because of a poor process, bad procedures, and not enough inquiries in marketing. But the worst thing to him in the whole damn world is when a company has an amazing product, a brilliant process, an incredible market, loads of inquiries, but the two people who run the business freaking hate each other and they both want to destroy the company. So don’t destroy your company. Take the measures at the start and build something beautiful that everybody can make a lot of money from and change the world for the better.