on it, so I
it to succeed, or else I would find myself back in the corporateworld. By contrast, my friend had already started several companies and wascomfortably well off, so he didn’t have the same expectations and requirements.It turned out we have a different definition of “the business isn’t working out”. Forme, it was working out if it was making enough money to cover my expenses. Formy friend, it wasn’t working out unless it was making enough money to also addto his existing wealth and thus justify the time and effort which he poured into it.Both those views were correct, but because we
that we understood eachother, we didn’t realise that our views were different until that difference hadgrown into a huge misunderstanding.This core divergence of views could have been resolved easily if we’d knownabout it and discussed it ahead of time, but we didn’t know about it, so it festeredand turned into dozens of other misunderstandings, so that by the time it finallybecame clear what our main divergence was, much of the damage was alreadydone and it was entangled in a huge mass of emotional misunderstandings
.This almost cost us our friendship. We got through this thanks to the help andmediation of another very good friend, who helped us to communicate to eachother how we felt, so that we could move forward together rather than againsteach other.I’m glad to say the mediation worked, and we’re still friends (perhaps evenstronger than before). Nevertheless, I learned some important lessons from this.
1. Make your agreements explicit
The first lesson is to keep agreements
. It’s not enough to
that yourfriend understands what you think: make sure he does by discussing it openly withhim. As my mediating friend phrased it, “unspoken promises” have a tendency toturn into broken promises (which are always hard to swallow). Avoid unspokenpromises.Here’s an example of a really bad thing to keep implicit: “We’ll only call it quitsif the business is bankrupt and can’t raise any more money.” The promise here isthat we’ll keep going until the very end. This may seem obvious to one party inthe business, but it may not be so to the other. One partner could, for instance, feelthat the time to call it quits is when the business has 3 months of cash flow left.Another may feel that it’s worth going deep into credit card debt territory before