You know how it goes. Ever since you did group projects in school, you’ve always been the one who contributed the most. Now, you have a business partner who’s not pulling his or her weight. At first it was simply awkward, but now it’s gone beyond that to frustrating and annoying.
Ultimately, it’s not about you. The fact is that this nonworking partnership is harming the business, which you’ve invested a lot of money and time in. It’s time to face facts: you may need to end this business relationship.
What happened? We were such good friends.
At the beginning, your differences seemed like a positive. You both brought different personalities, experiences and skill sets to the table. That was great for balance. You complemented each other and gave the business an even keel. You both had so much energy for the project-you worked long hours and inspired each other to do more and more. You shared visions of what success would mean to both of you.
Maybe he hasn’t brought in new clients for a while, or hasn’t suggested new ideas or improvements. Has he lost his passion for the business? Is that why everything is taking so long these days? He’s not even answering emails or returning calls quickly. These are all cause for concern.
Sometimes, you don’t know until you know
It’s quite possible that your partner is no longer as committed to the business as you are. Now that the excitement of starting the business has worn off, your partner may not have what it takes to keep going for the long haul. It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a character flaw. Being an entrepreneur simply doesn’t work for everybody. Your partner may miss the security of a regular day job, or be uncomfortable living with the risks required. The pressure to succeed may be too much to handle, and focusing on that fear may be interfering with his ability to contribute. Instead of talking about the issue with you, he may take a step back and let you take over, or ignore his work until it becomes a crisis situation.
It’s time to talk
If you think it’s time for you to try to go it alone, first try to think of a non-threatening way to initiate that conversation with him. Remember, giving up a business venture is always emotional, even if it’s what the person ultimately wants.
There’s a reason you signed a business contract at the beginning of this adventure. (At least, let’s hope that you did.) With a lawyer’s help, you can go over the contract and make sure both partners get what they’re looking for – if and when the partnership comes to an end.
Ending a partnership may not be an easy choice, but it may be the only thing that will keep your business successful. A lawyer can help you evaluate all of your options to protect yourself and the business.