By Ellie Batchiyska
Business partnerships are not entirely unlike romantic relationships. At the start, you’re moon-eyed, enamored by your partner’s business acumen, and envisioning a long and prosperous future together. Like any relationship, however, the honeymoon phase soon passes, leaving you to face inevitable turbulence and disagreements.
Unfortunately, as in romantic relationships, not all business partnerships can withstand this turbulence. A time comes in many business partnerships when a partner decides to cut ties.
With so much at stake, it can be hard to call it quits. For this reason, when initially drawing up a partnership agreement, you should always also come up with a dissolution strategy. In other words, how will the business proceed in the event that you part ways? Will you sell it, have one partner buy the other one out?
Not having a dissolution strategy in place can complicate a business partnership breakup more than is necessary. And, if even mediation hasn’t worked to mend any rifts, there are a few signs that signify it’s time to part ways:
1. Your partner is behaving irresponsibly
This is a dangerous one. If your partner has a tendency toward risky and irresponsible behavior, it can seriously jeopardize your and your business’s reputation. This behavior might include gambling, improper conduct with clients and employees, showing up to work intoxicated, and the list goes on.
Before deciding to break the partnership off, always attempt an intervention. If your partner knows just how much is at stake, they might rethink their destructive behavior. However, if your partner refuses to cooperate (or if this is a long-standing habit), it may be time to move on.
Your partner’s actions and attitudes can single-handedly distort the public view of your business, no matter how much PR and damage control you do. At a certain point, you just have to say, “Enough is enough.”
2. They’re not being completely honest
Lying by omission is still lying. So, whether your partner is being blatantly dishonest with you or is just not telling you the complete truth, it’s completely unacceptable. Business partners should always make each other aware of all business dealings and ensure that one another’s operations are legal and ethical.
Not confronting your partner about their untruthfulness could cause you to overlook some seriously damaging facts (tax fraud, insider trading, and embezzlement—to name some of the worst). Even if you don’t suspect your partner of lying, but do suspect them of not telling you the whole truth, the matter should not be approached lightly.
To avoid legal backlash, you should reconsider a partner who is not 100% transparent about their business dealings.
3. Different visions and values
In romantic relationships, different ideas of what the future holds often separate people. Perhaps one partner wants marriage or kids, and the other doesn’t. In business, different visions of a company’s future or ideas of what it should represent can divide partners. It’s important to ensure you’re on the same track while still drawing up your initial partnership agreement.
However, as with anything, even if you had the same visions at the start, visions can change—as can values. A sudden spark of inspiration can send one partner in a totally different direction. And, if the other partner can’t get on board with the change of heart, it can become explosive.
If your partner has derailed from the original visions and values you set in place for your company together, you may want to suggest it’s time for them to move on. Their change in vision could symbolize a deeper need for change in general. Maybe they have contributed all they can to your current company and are ready to move on, but just need that nudge and encouragement from you to do so.
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4. Unwillingness to compromise
It’s impossible to agree on everything—a truth that many people do not take lightly. That’s why compromise is important. For every suggestion your partner concedes to, you must do the same. However, if your partner has a superiority complex looming in the background, you may find they’re of the “my way or the highway attitude.”
Stubbornness is often lauded as an advantage in business; it’s anything but. If your partner is not willing to set aside their ego to come to an agreement, it’s going to be a long road to success. With these kinds of people, the best thing you can do is suggest that perhaps the business world is something they’re meant to take on alone.
You can start this conversation by saying something along the lines of “I’ve noticed you’re very passionate about your ideas, to the point where sometimes you can be a little unyielding toward suggestions or disagreement about them. I think that’s an admirable quality, but I don’t think it works for me. It sounds like you need to pursue business ventures independently, so that you can take on your ideas freely.”
If your partner is not open to compromise, they will end up making their own decisions without your approval, which could have disastrous results.
5. They’re indifferent
For some people, once they get their startup off the ground, they brush their hands off and feel their work is done—and suddenly, you’re left with the burden of managing things on your own. Maybe you were drawn to your business partner for their innovative ideas and insights, but have found their work ethic doesn’t quite match their brilliance.
This happens a lot. Business partners have just enough drive and stamina to get things going, but their laziness and indifferent nature later reveals itself. These kinds of business partners are the equivalent to the romantic partner who only enjoys the beginning of a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, once they get comfortable and stop trying, you’ll often find the chemistry just isn’t there.
You can try asking your partner to pick up some of the slack, but be prepared for potentially empty promises. Whether the business is no longer presenting enough of a challenge, or your partner is just uncaring by nature, you deserve someone who is equally as involved as you are.
Time to call it quits?
The ability for any of these factors to result in the disintegration of your partnership will depend on the individual relationship you have with your partner. However, note that if all five of these are present, the odds of continued success are low.
Disharmony among partners leaks into a business’s overall operations. Clients feel it, employees feel it, and companies suffer as a result. Know when it’s time to call it quits, and stand firm when that time comes.
About the Author
Post by: Ellie Batchiyska
Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for Faxage, an affordable online faxing service used by individuals and businesses everywhere to simplify communications.
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