It all sounds very wonderful at the beginning. Have a business partner with whom to share the good and the bad times, lean on them when needed, watch your business flourish, but then…. The then is any number of things in a business partnership, but the one that usually leads to a faster end than other reasons is when one of the business partners is underperforming. How do you end a partnership when one partner is not pulling their weight?
As a former solicitor, someone who has come out of a business partnership and someone that still works with solicitors dealing with partnership disputes and terminations, I do have a lot of experience in this area.
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Often The Underperforming Partner Has No Idea…
I will start here, because in my experience of having coached several people through the end of a business partnership, the underperforming partner usually doesn’t have an inkling that anything is wrong.
One partner, probably you in this case as you are reading this article about ending a business partnership, suddenly realises that they are doing the lions share of the work.
You may be generating all of the leads for your business, converting those leads into new clients and then, at the point where your business partners is supposed to pick up operations and delivery, be asked to step in and sort that out too because your partner has dropped the baton (or simply not even tried to pick it up).
You notice this at first and might tackle the issue a few times, but keep being rebuffed by your business partner.
The sense of justice starts to become too much, to such an extent that you realise that you cannot continue in this one sided business partnership. But how do you end your partnership?
Ending Your Business Partnership Amicably
The ideal scenario for most of us plays out like this:
- You bring to your partner’s attention that you want to bring your business partnership to an end;
- They agree that it is a good idea; and
- You each go your own separate ways and live happily ever after.
Sadly, it rarely happens this way.
If, as is usually the case, you are doing most of the work to make the business partnership a success, your business partner is not going to want to end a good thing. Whether they realise this consciously or sub consciously, they are going to want to keep their income coming in, especially if most of it is created by you.
Therefore, the amicable business solution as portrayed above is not usually what happens.
However, there are other ways of achieving the same result; the end of your business partnership.
Dividing The Business
If you have several aspects of your business a solution that can please both of the partners can be to separate the parts of the business that you enjoy the most, if there is a good split of income for this to happen.
Ultimately, you both have to receive a similar value from the deal for this to work.
Even if you have two parts of your business that divide nicely, your business partner may still be reluctant to end the partnership, especially if you are the one who generates all of the sales.
In this situation, you are going to have to make it clear that there is no alternative. You must get the message acrosss that your partnership is going to come to an end no matter what. Even if you do this, it will take several months for your business partner to realise that you are serious and that you will follow through, no matter what.
That part is critical: end your business partnership no matter what.
There will be times when you waiver on this path, it is only natural if you have worked with someone for a number of years, but you must remember that it is not in your best interests, your families best interests or even those of your business partner to remain in a broken business partnership.
If you are unable to divide the business, you might need to consider another option, managing your business partner out of the partnership.
Managing Your Business Partner Out Of The Business
The next method for ending your business partnership is to manage your partner out of the business.
This takes a little time, and some effort but I have helped people to make it work many times.
If the problem is underperformance, then managing the underperformance is the ideal way to lead to a partnership exit.
It involves having at least weekly meetings where you agree your plans for the week, you clearly undertake yours but then tackle the issue of underperformance by your business partner. So long as you do this consistently, and keep track of everything that your business partner should do, it is very effective.
Your underperforming partner will go from the position of having the easy life when they seem to be able to do very little yet collect the same income each month, to being expected to deliver consistently.
Often when using this method the ‘parting amicably’ solution above becomes an option again.
Legal Action To End Your Partnership
Nobody will win in this scenario except the laywers involved.
If you had profit in your business before taking legal action, that will more likely than not be wiped out by legal fees, often leading to any business that existed before the dispute being shut down.
There is another way, would you like to know more?
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Your Doubts About Going It Alone
When you finally see things moving towards an end to your business partnership, it is totally understandable that you start to have some feelings of doubt.
Even if your business partner has been underperforming, you will realise that when they are no longer there you will have no excuses if you do not succeed.
This is perfectly normal.
Don’t doubt yourself that you won’t be able to run the business alone, you will.
I went through this process myself, but my business flourished when I went solo, yet there were times when I would ask myself if I really could do it alone.
You can do it too. Believe in yourself.
With the additional money you will make from not giving half away to your underperforming business partner, you can even pay a mentor to ensure that you make your solo business a success.
Is It Fair On Your Family?
Your business partner may say that you are being unfair and that things should be able to carry on as they have always done before.
You might feel guilty and think about backing down and agreeing with him or her.
Your first duty is to yourself. Can you really allow yourself to carry an underperforming business partner for another week, month, year or decade?
Not only do you have a duty to yourself, you more likely than not also have a duty to your family. If you keep on carrying your underperforming business partner, someone has to pay for that and it will be your family.
You might not be able to afford the family holidays that you want, or the larger house. The only person stopping you from having those items should be you, nobody else.
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