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Is it time to end a partnership?

Business partnerships are a lot like a marriage. Ideally, the partners work together for years, perhaps many years, aiming toward a common goal. As the business grows, the partnership proves to be prosperous, and each partner contributes equally to that success.

Also like a marriage, the partnership may have run its course. Perhaps the partnership dynamic is no longer equal, or the partners are moving in different directions. The role of a good partner is to provide complementary skills, strong chemistry and a mindset where “two minds are better than one.” However, maybe it is no longer working like it once did.

Sure signs that it is time for a change

Every relationship ebbs and flows, but telltale signs show their heart is no longer in it:

Loss of focus: Some people’s interest flags over time, and they tend to become complacent or look for something new — this is never a good sign for a current business’s future health. A partner can point this out, and perhaps changes can be made to better utilize the other’s talents or interests, but someone needs to handle their current obligations if they change their focus.

Not pulling their weight: Unequal amounts of effort (or levels that do not represent the partnership agreement) are sure to signal trouble. The person picking up the slack will likely grow resentful and demoralized and feel abandoned — this can be particularly stressful if the business suffers from this inattention.

They may not even realize it themselves

It is part of a partner’s job to offer help when the other needs it, but they are also there to troubleshoot problems that affect the viability of the business. If the forthright discussions do not bring meaningful change, it may be time to dissolve the business, sell it or make a formal change in ownership. Ideally, the partners can refer to their buy-sell agreement. If there are disagreements over how to proceed, an experienced business law attorney can help negotiate a deal or help them weigh their business and legal options.