Startup or new business with many partners: 10 tips so as to collaborate with success


– “We started a new project. We will need your consulting”
– “It will be my pleasure. How many people are you as a team?”
– “3”
– “And who does what?”
– “All of us will do everything, we are in the beginning”

– “I will produce, she will sell”
– “Has she sold again in her life?”
– “Not much, but she will handle”
– “You are in sales for the last 10 years, why don’t you sell yourself?”
– “Because otherwise what is she going to do? We will not be able to be partners in this case”

– “We have a great startup”
– “Super, congratulations. Who is in?”
– “We are 3 persons, all programmers”
– “And who will sell?”
– “We will see, one of us”
– “You are all perfect so as to be locked in a room for couple of years and create an amazing new project. But you need someone to sell it too!”

Unclear roles and lack of honesty: Two of the top 5 reasons new companies or startups fail

Since my 18, I have created several ventures and some startups. Also, I have advised / consulted more than 300 others, in many different sectors. I have also studied their competition and followed their evolution, positive or negative one. Based on this experience, I have created a list of the most important reasons why new companies or startups fail. Two of the top 5 is definitely the unclear roles in the new business attempt and the lack of honesty.

All new business attempts or startups need very hard work, but they also require a good team so as to succeed. Business nowadays is much more complicated than what it was 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. Yes, it is true that Romania has great potential in several different sectors, but you will not be able to exploit it without building on solid basis.

10 tips so as to collaborate with success

“So what should we do?” is the next question in seminars and workshops. Let’s reply on this, with honesty, not “beautiful lies”. Because even if we lie to each other now, real life will not be so sweet with you afterwards…

1. Above and before all, write down on a paper who you are

You are two, three, four, five or a… football team. Great! Let’s start with the basics:

  • Each of you, take 2 pieces of paper
  • Write on the first one all your weak points, all the things you don’t like doing
  • Then on the second one mention all your abilities, what you love doing

Having done that, 50% of the problem is solved. You have a guide that tells you who can do what and who should avoid something. Also like this you can identify easier if the team is better for a startup than for a new business attempt.

2. Be honest

Go back to no.1. Do you consider that someone from the team is not saying the truth? Tell him that you have questions regarding one of his declarations. Discuss everything in front of everyone. This is not about you tricking the others or vice versa. New business cannot be based on shadows, secrets and lies.

3. Successful teams are built by different people

Let us imagine a team of 4 persons.

  • Can we have success with 4 leaders /generals and not any soldier?
  • Can we reach results with 4 soldiers and no one to assume responsibility?
  • Can we have only dreamers and no one with his feet on the ground? Or the opposite?
  • Does it help us to have only good sellers and no one for the back office job or vice versa?

It is vital for your future success to make sure that your team includes people with different qualities (go to no. 1 again). In the scenario when all of you are the same, you need infusion of someone else too, otherwise soon you will realize that only one or two of you are doing what they like while the rest do other stuff and are unhappy for that (or they cannot perform well).

4. Make sure that everyone is committed

I will write it 1.000 times: A new business venture or a startup means endless hours of work! Anyone who tells you the opposite is simply lying.

I saw many cases when a team of people started working but soon one or two stepped back or stopped being active, as they were already involved in another 100 tasks. Make sure that everyone in the team understands this is a process requiring work and devotion. It will be a pity to wake up with problems because someone abandoned you just when you needed him the most.

5. Decide: Startup or New Business venture?

You know more or less who you are and the profile of the rest in the team. You also made sure that everyone is committed. Now it is time to choose if you will opt for a startup or a new business venture. A startup is a totally different story than a New Business Venture and there are many things that differentiate these 2 business attempts.

“Why is it so important?” I get asked constantly. Well, how can you build your strategy and split roles and tasks if you don’t know what you want to achieve? A startup will be sold or attract angel investors, while a new business venture may grow by itself. Choose your path so as for all of you to know what is the target.

6. Agree on a business plan and a basic strategy

Many new attempts fail because there is not a basic strategy that is accepted and respected by everyone. This means that even after a possible success in the beginning, partners will have different approach for the next steps and chances are that they will not resolve the issue peacefully. If you agree on a direction, I would also suggest to you to write it in a paper and everyone to place his signature. Scripta manent

7. Identify the “job posts” of everyone and measure their cost

(Probably the most important issue!)

A sales person in a startup has less value than in a normal business venture. A programmer is more important in the startup, while an accountant is needed in both. Who does what? Write down the job post of everyone and also measure the money he would receive for this work. Commissions for sales have to be mentioned and registered, irrespectively if they are paid or not. Even if no one is paid, you need to track who offered and what so as to reach success. Also, by knowing the cost of everyone, you will be able to settle the money that everyone will receive in a second stage. Otherwise, you will have the ones who offer the most being offended or frustrated. And without motivation, the new venture will soon be “new failure” …

(PS. Yes, this is valid also for the one who writes the posts on Facebook etc. If he can do this job correctly, you should calculate the cost on your monthly budget, even if he is doing it now for free. If it is important, it should not be underestimated).

8. Outsource if and what you can

You don’t have to do everything by yourselves. Usually all serious projects realize that they have to focus on some tasks and outsource some others after the first 6 months and before the first year. In today’s world, by searching you may find affordable solutions for many different problems. In the end of the day, you are a small team of people, no one is expecting that you can do all the tasks by yourselves.

9. Track down all money transactions

Forget the “we are friends” theory. Business is business, friendship is friendship. Or any other theory similar to this. Either you have a startup or a new business venture, make sure that you write down all the expenses and all the income of the company, from the smallest to the biggest amount. Like this you will be able to build trust between partners, understand the company’s sources of revenue and realize which costs can be reduced.

10. You need a good accountant and lawyer. At least

No company can survive without a good accountant and a decent lawyer. I have seen tens of “successful” business being destroyed due to totally wrong accountants or uninterested lawyers, who damaged the business due to lack of interest. Yes, it will cost you a bit more, but make sure that you will not undermine your hard work due to external reasons.

If you are able to collaborate with more key people, such as a consultant, an EU Grants expert etc., it will be even better. If not, try to collect information and keep your eyes open for news and opportunities.

“Good explanations make the good friends”

This is an old Greek proverb that is also valid in the scenario of 2 or more people collaborating together. Good intentions are not enough.

A friendly advice by someone who has successfully collaborated with many people but also felt on his skin the failure due to wrong collaborations: every unsolved small problem / misunderstanding today, tomorrow becomes a mine for your business.

One thing is to understand the other and be patient with him and it is something else to hide / accept wrong things.

What is your opinion?


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