Breaking up is hard to do, and that’s just as true for business relationships as it is for romance. Though your hearts may not be broken there is real risk that a successful business can be brought down by animosity between those who were once partners and collaborators. There are several steps to be taken to prevent and avoid that outcome — and even to make a partnership breakup less adversarial. One of the most effective is to use a mediator to take you through the necessary steps.
Though nobody expects their partnership to dissolve, the most important step you can take to avoid a problem in the future is to prepare for the worst and craft a partnership agreement when the business first starts, in hopes that it will protect you and any other stakeholders. Still, even when the terms are clear and every eventuality addressed, when a partnership breakup occurs there is room for argument. That’s where a mediator can be a real asset. A mediator is a neutral party who has been specially trained to help individuals work through and discuss their differences. They are not there to determine who is right or wrong as much as to help people work through their disputes and find a path forward that avoids litigation, as well as hard feelings. Rather than creating a winner and a loser, a mediator will help find a consensus that lets all parties feel that they have found a workable solution that makes sense.
Rather than being a decision-making exercise, mediation is a means to better, more productive communication. The process lets the interested parties – who have the most at stake and who know the business best – make decisions about what is best for them and their business instead of having an outsider have the final say, possibly leaving all partners feeling dissatisfied.
An effective mediator helps all involved in the partnership breakup to articulate their position in a way that is not angry or accusatory. This facilitates problem-solving and offers hope of preserving a relationship that litigation could destroy permanently. Though it may not be appropriate for every situation, where there is room for discussion it may be the most cost and time-efficient solution, as well as the one that leads to the most satisfying result.
For information about how our firm can help you work through your partnership breakup, contact us today to set up a time for a consultation.