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Should you rethink partnering with a friend or spouse?

Throughout your life, you likely have referred to someone as your partner. Whether a romantic partner or an affectionately called partner in crime, you likely used the word because it conveys a sense of importance concerning the relationship you have. The same importance applies to business partners you choose to help run your company.

Because partnerships are so important, you will likely want to think long and hard before coming to a decision about who could best suit this role. You may think that adding the "business partner" label to your spouse or best friend seems like a logical step as you likely trust each of these individuals, but you may also want to remember that forming a business partnership differs greatly from a personal partnership.

Separation of personal and business

With any type of partnership, the chance for conflict exists. You likely do not always see eye-to-eye with your spouse or friends, and while you may have the ability to come to a resolution easily enough, it can often prove more difficult to resolve partnership disputes. When you become business partners with a spouse or friend, you run the risk of personal issues bleeding over into your work life.

Should you and your spouse fail to resolve a relationship squabble before the next workday, could you or your spouse carry out actions in the workplace just to spite the other? If so, your company could suffer. The same goes for issues among friends outside the office that could become in-office disputes among partners. Additionally, if an issue does affect the company, the conflict may require more substantial steps than a simple "I'm sorry" to resolve.

If you do choose to partner with a friend or spouse, you may want to have an open discussion from the beginning that personal emotions do not have a place in the company. You may need to speak frankly about business decisions, financial obligations and other areas that do not need emotional ties. If you partner with someone who may take offense to certain actions or consider business-related disagreements as personal attacks, you may set yourself up for a difficult road.

Resolving conflict

In some cases, partnership disputes are unavoidable. If so, you may find yourself in the courtroom working out these problems. You may also want to remember that if you partner with a spouse and end up facing divorce, your company could find itself at risk. Because you undoubtedly want to deal with any type of partnership dispute effectively, you may want to understand your legal options for doing so as well as your options for creating agreements that may help avoid litigation.

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