Startups and new businesses often struggle with disputes. If not dealt with timely and effectively, the implications can range from accumulating losses to even a complete breakdown of the company.
That’s why I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having proper dispute resolution in place. First, however, a little about me. I am Ofir Bar, and I have over two decades of experience in investing in real estate and a special interest in young startups and innovators.
I frequently write about real estate. From my humble beginnings in Israel to turning profits there and expanding to the UK and South Africa – I am always on the lookout for new opportunities to invest in. This time, I want to focus on my other passion. I’ve seen many startups grow and become amazing phenomena. On the other hand, I’ve witnessed more startups fail and get decimated to oblivion than I care to remember. Setting up a new venture or startup can be pretty difficult – especially if you have negligible or no previous entrepreneurship and managerial experience.
The beginning is the toughest part. Everything from your core beliefs to your forecasts is challenged at every step.
It’s important to chalk out an effective means to:
- Solve problems (ideally, before they appear).
- Avoid conflicts (or sort them out if they happen).
- Deal with disagreements (in a subtle manner).
The startup or company’s goals should be pre-aligned before operations begin. If this condition isn’t met, then expect turbulent waters in the initial months. When co-founders, stakeholders, or various directors are not all on the same page – at least regarding the short-term aims and goals – the resultant disarray can quickly hamper productivity. It’s critical, therefore, to align the goals peacefully beforehand.
Human Resource Management
Tackling the pandemic has to be factored in. Brick-and-mortar retail in the United States is at 96% normalcy (pre-COVID), whereas returning to work is only at 78% (and you can find some more interesting numbers right here).
Things are quickly becoming normal again. But it would be a mistake to drop your guard. The return to normalcy has put a strain on the workforce. Inflation is increasing. Procuring raw materials is becoming more difficult. That’s why it’s high time now to properly manage the workforce under you.
If you cannot manage the employees properly then you’re scripting the doom of your business in the COVID-19 era.
Establishing a clear hierarchy before operations begin is a priority. I’ve seen many companies fail because they were started by friends or colleagues who failed to clarify who manages whom and whose vote trumps whose.
If you haven’t established a managerial hierarchy and put it aside for later, let me tell you that you’re running on a risky paradigm of trust. When complications arise (and they will), everyone will be distasteful because resolving problems will either be impossible or need to be dealt with with an iron hand.
Neither of the scenarios is efficient. That’s why you should make sure everyone knows their rank. Everyone is valued, yes, but depending on the area and expertise, different people must hold the power to make high-level choices for the company. This responsibility can be shared collectively on a vote basis or by carving up departments (for example, R&D spearheads innovation and finance controls the means of raising capital).
A good manager never loses their calm, and yes, that is easier said than done. However, handling discords and other issues properly is vital for the wellbeing of a business - and its employees, who do not want to end every work day with a sour feeling.
That’s why you should always tackle situations with logic, and not feelings. Everything should be talked about, and employees should not be ashamed to raise problems or dissatisfactions. It is better to let them air than to keep everything inside till it explodes (and it will). If you feel that you are having a hard time creating this kind of environment, I would recommend seeking outside assistance from specialists.
Everyone thinks they know how to deal with discords, but when situations heat up, even the greatest bosses don’t always manage to keep their cool. However, it is not that hard to learn self control in that sense, and to practice it. The first step, though, is to recognize that this does not come naturally - and if you succeed in that, well, then the path to peaceful dispute resolution gets much easier.