4 Easy-to-Digest Tips to Combat Startup Contention

Launching a startup is not for the faint of heart. No matter how groundbreaking, innovative or ingenious your company’s products or services, there are bound to be obstacles to overcome en route to entrepreneurial success. Think about it — from smart ideation and execution to raising capital and impressing investors, as a startup executive, your workload is getting heavier with each passing day.

Needless to say, owning and operating a startup can often create a work environment that’s anything but stress-free. But remember, you’re not the only one struggling to get by when the going gets tough — your employees are knee-deep in the same migraine-inducing madness. The end result of such workplace mayhem? Contention.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar, instead of packing up early and heading home with boiling blood coursing through your veins, take charge of the situation and confront contention head-on. Easier said than done, right? No worries — the following four easy-to-implement tips are bound to a make a difference:

1) Be the First to Admit Fault

There’s this idea out there that — armed with stern looks, intelligence and a long list of professional accolades — niche-specific thought leaders must always be right. This mentality isn’t all that you think it’s cracked up to be and ends up working against you in the long run. If you’re one who’s embraced it, now is the time to change.

Here’s the thing — admitting fault isn’t a sign of ineptitude; moreover, it’s one of strength, personal growth, level-headedness, self-awareness and devotion to the good of your startup’s road ahead. Conversely, refusing to do so when necessary is one of insecurity and weakness. Newsflash, people see through this.

2) Forgive and Forget

You’ve heard this one before, haven’t you? “Forgive and Forget” isn’t only a great motto for inspirational t-shirts and posters, it’s a great way to combat startup contention. Anger is a type of cancer. Gradually, it eats away at a person’s energy and health, producing poor results and leading to discord within your startup’s internal structure.

You’re a leader. Take the high road and forgive those who’ve made mistakes. In fact, the strongest leaders use this as an opportunity for growth and reflection to come out stronger than ever to charge ahead. Remember, you too have made your fair share leading up to where you are today. Also, though a solid formula for avoiding contention, far too many startup executives forget the second half — forget.

Dangling mistakes over an employee’s head signifies that original forgiveness was little more than lip service. It also leads to employee turnover, poor culture and a group of people that won’t feel comfortable collaborating to share ideas with you (startup kiss of death). When you forgive a team member, let it go completely and move onto the next task with a renewed sense of purpose and devotion.

3) Is your glass half full? Always Look for the best

Once damage has been done, it’s easy to associate those who were most prominently involved with routinely dropping the proverbial ball. It’s these kind of assumptions that take regular, run-of-the-mill mistakes and make them into a much bigger deal than they need to be.

You’re not only in charge of your startup, you’re in charge of yourself. Take the high road and assume that others have good intentions and are genuinely trying to put forth their best efforts. You’ll be happier because of it, but so too will your team. You’re in the driver’s seat and a vote of confidence from you can help eliminate future contention.

When things go awry or mistakes are made, take the time to understand, learn and benchmark. A golden rule to live by, you set the stage and the way problems are handled and resolved comes from the top down.

4) Remember — You Care Most About Long-Term Solutions

As aptly put by Geoffrey James of Inc.com, “Lose a battle to win the war.” James might’ve not coined the popular saying, but his use of it in relation to preventing workplace contention is spot-on in its startup application.

Most of the time, it doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong; what does matter, however, is that your team remain unified. Pride can be a tough pill to swallow, but if it means keeping your small business running free of contention, it might occasionally be required. No worries — you’ll be better because of it.


Nobody is exempt from having fed the beast that is workplace contention. You’re not perfect. Embrace it. With that in mind, however, instead of merely accepting that contention is part of the “startup experience,” work actively to eliminate it entirely from your office. Rest assured, using the above four tips, it can happen.

Now it’s your turn — I need your help! These tips have worked for both me and my clients, but I know there’s more good information out there. I’m looking to you for answers — what have you done to combat startup contention? In the comments section below, share your secrets! If you’re shy, private message me. As always, I can’t wait to see what you’ve got for me! Until then, thanks for reading!

  • Image Credit: Featured Image, Google

Note: This post was originally published on Linkedin

I help startups hire sales leaders without the cringe • Founder/CEO • 2X Entrepreneur • Personally closed $100MM+ in revenue (and counting) • LinkedIn Top Sales

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