Not every business partnership is meant to last forever. Some partnerships start off well, but as the company evolves, it outgrow its usefulness. Here are the typical bad signs of an impending breakup:
1. Respect and trust are fading.
The basis of any partnership is respect and trust. You may no longer respect the skills your partner brings to the company. You may no longer trust your partner to deliver the results that are needed to be successful. You may be hearing things from other employees about what your partner is saying behind your back.
2. Your skills are no longer complementary to your partner.
You may have gained their skill or other employees in the company may have picked it up and excelled at it. Either way, your partner’s talents no longer seem so critical to the success of the company.
3. Communication has broken down.
You no longer talk to each other. It seems like the only conversations you do have are via email, text or through other intermediaries. The talk keeps moving away from the goal in your business to one that is getting too personal. Every conversation with your partner seems to end in an argument.
4. You disagree on how to spend money.
You and your partner now want to invest company resources in different things. Perhaps you want to reinvest in growing the business and he/she wants to harvest by taking much of the profit out.
5. You want to work on different things.
You no longer agree on the strategic direction of the company and it keeps the team divided. In fact, more and more there seems to be two teams inside the company- yours and his/hers.
6. You think you work harder than your partner.
In the early days, it was the two of you all the time. You continue to grind away at the business, but it seems like your partner is kicking back a bit too much and is never in the office.
How to transition:
Breaking up is always hard to do. Start by communicating the obvious and review the six points above with your partner. Discuss privately each other’s view on the problems. Agree to keep employees, customers and vendors out of this private conversation. Look for resolutions. Consult your shareholder agreements for buyout procedures and other remedies. Go to an advisor that you both trust to help with the transition.
How did your breakup go with your partner? What were the first signs?