Businesses partnerships between friends can be extremely successful, as people who trust and care about one another tend to communicate well and back one another up. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If circumstances in your small business are falling apart and you want to dissolve the partnership without losing the friendship, you will need to navigate the process carefully.
- Make the relationship your top priority – The first step in maintaining your friendship as you end a business relationship is to determine that as your priority. The moment that your focus shifts from that to profitability you will find yourself in treacherous waters. Just as in the breakup of a marriage, dissolving a business can quickly lead to both sides focusing on “winning”, and that can mean a departure from being reasonable. If you want to walk away from the business with the friendship intact, then you need to be willing to give more than you necessarily think is fear and avoid focusing on small details. It is astonishing but true that the most insignificant topics often lead to the most heated arguments and the end of personal relationships.
- Don’t wait too long – It is difficult to make the call to end a small business partnership. Many people who’ve lost friendships of long-standing regret waiting too long and allowing tension to build. They say that had they acted when they first realized that things weren’t working out there would have been less accumulated tension and more of an ability to communicate in a way that did not reflect anger or frustration. This is especially true when a business is not profitable and staying together leads to increased financial losses. Once you realize that things are not working and attempts at adjustments have not helped, avoid drawing things out. Make the decision and move forward.
- Keep the conversation about the business professional – Make sure that all discussions about breaking up your small business partnership focus on the financial and operational issues that you face. Remember to listen without interrupting and be sure that you do not make personal comments that will end your friendship. Try to avoid blame.
One of the best ways that you can preserve your friendship while dissolving a small business partnership is to enlist the help of a neutral third party. By bringing in somebody with business knowledge to negotiate and mediate, you can avoid the pitfalls that all-too-often end relationships. Contact the knowledgeable B&L business attorneys for guidance.