Business partnerships are a lot like relationships. Eventually, the honeymoon phase will come to an end. Feelings of mutual trust and respect can corrode. Left unchecked, these problems could mean the end of a once-successful business partnership.
Sometimes, ending a relationship is the only way to effectively resolve a partnership dispute. However, just because you and your business partner might see eye-to-eye doesn’t mean your only option is to throw in the towel. Like any relationship, it may still be possible to salvage things before they are too far gone. Here is a three-step approach you can take to help address problems in your business partnership.
Step 1: Communicate freely
So many relationships end up on the rocks because of a failure to communicate. The same holds true when it comes to business partnerships. Set aside some time to discuss your issues. Discuss your ideas for how you’d like things to proceed. It can even be healthy to air out your grievances with one another. However, you will want to do so respectfully. A conversation that devolves into name-calling and mud-slinging will not solve anything.
Step 2: Review your legal options
This doesn’t mean playing your legal cards straight out of the gate. However, it’s useful to gain some background on your options, should a legal resolution prove to be your only way forward. Review your partnership agreement. A well-drafted document should outline what will happen in case of dissolution. Even if your agreement is silent on this point, it can still help you to start thinking about what the end of the partnership might look like and what topics you’ll need to address.
Step 3: Reach an actionable decision
Maybe all it took was talking things over. If so, you can get back to work with a renewed sense of doing what is best for your business partnership. If, after reasonable discussions, you still find yourself at an impasse, it might be time to go your separate ways. Hopefully, you will find a mutually agreeable exit strategy. If not, you may have to prepare yourself for a legal battle. Regardless of where things end up, relying on legal counsel throughout this process can help ensure that your interests will remain protected.