Marriage and business partnerships have a lot in common. They begin with zeal and the highest hopes for the future. They necessitate a great deal of communication and have to deal with peaks and valleys. Business partnerships, like marriages, can come to an end at any time. A business divorce is the term used to describe the separation of business partners.
Anyone who has ever had a business partner can attest to the fact that the analogy to a marriage is apt. For married couples, divorce can range from cordial to knock-down-drag-out. Similarly, a business divorce might be amicable or fraught with emotions, egos, and costly, protracted litigation. Business partners must deal with people and equipment rather than determining who gets to keep the china and silverware. Business divorces are rarely pleasant, but they don’t have to be. If business partners remember the following crucial elements early on in their relationship, any future separation or business divorce will be considerably less traumatic.
Selecting A Partner
Firm partners that want to build a long-term business should analyze compatibility before starting a new company, much as people look for compatibility in a marriage relationship. Prospective business partners should think about whether their communication styles and mental processes are compatible. Do their strengths and shortcomings compliment one other? One partner may have a certain expertise or know-how but no experience establishing a firm, whereas the other knows how to operate a business but has limited technical understanding.
As any married couple knows, getting along is easy when things are going well, but when things aren’t going so well, the partnership is put to the ultimate test. In high-pressure situations, business partners should examine how well they operate together so that they don’t result in a business divorce. Do both spouses pull up their sleeves and work to find a solution when problems arise, or does one partner crumble under pressure or worse, become angry and critical? This is possibly the most crucial factor to consider because it will influence not only the tone of the partnership, but also whether the breakup will be collaborative or confrontational.
The Partnership Accord
Before getting married, some couples sit down and think about what will happen if the marriage does not work out. A prenuptial agreement is the document that results from this process (prenup). A partnership agreement is the name for such a document in a partnership. The distinction is that while asking a prenuptial agreement may cause wounded emotions, requesting a partnership agreement should never be viewed with anger. Having clear, intelligible language about processes, protocols, expectations, and exit procedures in a firm is usually regarded as prudent and even wise. Partners should revisit this agreement on a regular basis as the partnership grows and matures, updating it as needed and ensuring that it represents any changes to the relationship that have occurred since the last update.
When disagreements unavoidably emerge, the actual test of a partnership or marriage is put to the test. Many married couples seek advice and assistance from a third party: a marriage counsellor. The same may be said about business collaborations. Consultants, advisory boards, and special committees can help establish practical solutions and mutually beneficial goals by providing fresh, impartial views. These third parties can serve as an intermediary in the event of a disagreement or business divorce, a third party during brainstorming, or a tie-breaker in the event of a stalemate for the partnership.
There are ups and downs in all long-term partnerships. Some people can handle them, while others cannot. Partnerships in business are no exception. When a business becomes successful, one partner may desire to leave to pursue a new challenge. At other occasions, antagonism has grown to the point where the company’s capacity to operate is jeopardized. Regardless of the cause, the result is the same: the partnership must come to an end. Partners who have followed the suggestions in this piece will have an easier time dissolving their relationship than those who are caught off guard. Many difficult decisions, such as how to distribute asset custody, customer lists, and intellectual property, and how to value shares, will have already been decided.