This is a tough one, and one I’ve felt personally. Multiple times. Both as an observer. And as a startup founder. Today’s Pando “Startups anonymous” tells a sad story.
But here’s the problem: in the Valley, friends are co-workers. Co-workers are friends. We meet after work. We talk about work. All the time. Work is our passion. It consumes us. And we gravitate towards partners and friends who feel the same way. It’s what makes the Valley so incredibly powerful. Many of today’s tech startups get kicked off in Dorm Rooms. Don’t tell me those startup founders aren’t friends.
It’s often simply unrealistic to do it any other way.
It’s hard to start a company with someone you don’t know well, and trust. Those who qualify are usually your friends/partners/family. So either you go it alone, or you do it with a friend, life partner, and/or family member. Or sometimes someone who is all three!
So given that reality, what is a startup founder to do?
Bring in a great team as quickly as possible. Get a great board of advisors who are mature, experienced, and not close friends, family members or life partners. Of anyone. Share the responsibility beyond the friend/partner/family member. Find time to keep the relationship solid outside work. Openly discuss difficulties the moment they appear. Be honest. Be human. Be kind. It can be done.