Published April 6, 2010

How to Handle Bad Partnerships

In business, it can be a smart decision strategically to form a partnership. Whether it is for financial purposes with a colleague or simply a strategic move to expand manufacturing capabilities, a partnership can be a great way to start a business.

Unfortunately, sometimes partner relationships go sour. What can you do if your partnership is struggling?

  • Fix It from the Beginning

    One way to ensure that a partnership runs smoothly is to have a clear partnership agreement outlined before you shake hands. You and your partner sit down and agree to the goals of the company and the strategies and tactics you plan to achieve those goals. When a conflict arises, bring out the agreement and go over it together. This could be the first and quickest way to resolving partnership conflict.

  • Don't Let Conflict Drag

    Business partners who don't get along or are in continual conflict have a rough road ahead. Rather than letting conflict fester to a boiling point, always try to resolve issues immediately. This is best for the mental health of both partners and the success of the business.

  • Agree to Discuss

    An important part of resolving partnership conflict is to discuss the problems and issues and work toward a resolution. Set a time where you and your business partner can sit alone. Clear the air about what is on each others' mind. Sometimes a conflict can be resolved simply by knowing what problems are bothering the other partner. Make the time to get clarity on each others' position and how you would both like to proceed with the partnership.

  • Know Your Bridges

    A conflict with your partner may arise because you both have opposing viewpoints about a specific business strategy or decision. Know what bridge you are willing to proverbially die on and which ones are not as important. Often, you may find that what your partner finds incredibly important is only minute to you.

  • Hire an Arbitrator

    In extreme cases of resolving partnership conflict, it may be necessary to bring in a neutral third party to help guide the partnership back on track. If you and your business partner are committed to seeing your business succeed, a professional arbitrator can be a good resource to getting to the root of the partnership agreement and finding solutions that makes everyone happy.

  • Dissolve the Partnership

    When bad partnerships cannot be resolved, it is sometimes necessary to dissolve the partnership altogether. If the business cannot survive due to the poor cooperation of the business owners, agree to dissolve the partnership, or have one partner buy out the other. If dissolving a partnership is the only way to handling bad partnerships, it may be best to cut losses and simply start over.

    A good and healthy partnership is the dream of many business owners. Solving problems together and sharing successes equally can be very rewarding. But sometimes a partnership goes south and problems arise. Take the time to clear the air. Be sure both parties are on the same page. Get neutral help from an outside source. If your partnership cannot be fixed, it may be time to go your separate ways.