What is the most common reason for co-founders of start-ups to have a falling out?

Typically, it comes between ego and ambition.

Let’s run through some reasons:

  • Jealousy. There is one CEO. They get the lime light being quoted in articles. Some others can’t deal with it
  • Work ethic. Some people just have work priorities and work harder. Others should work for the government
  • Ambition. Some want to build huge stuff, others actually want a lifestyle business
  • Keeping up. Some people are great at shipping an MVP, others lose it when they need to scale to 5m DAU
  • Cash. When you are short of cash, it brings the worst out of people and if you have the resilience to stick with it. Running out of cash is the only reason (mainly) why startups shut down
  • Direction. You start off with a vague idea and as the business starts working, perhaps in a new direction, some don’t like it
  • Hate each other. Sometimes you start a company with people that seem smart, but you don’t know them. Shit ensues

Basically, you find a reason to hate looking at one another.

It happens a lot. Staff HATE it. The office gets dark.

You have no idea how important you are as a founder in an office till staff tell you. I’m writing it now, but you won’t internalise it.

I’ve been a negative once and learned from it, but it was only when I had to turn around a company I realised quite how much my attitude was critical to it changing the culture.

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