Even the best-laid business plans can go awry. Like Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin of Facebook or even rock bands like The Beatles, most business relationships aren't supposed to last indefinitely.
Constant compromises, the process of give and take and simple disagreements can all spur the end of an otherwise successful and profitable business. In this case, the best course of action is to end the relationship in a professional and courteous manner.
Step 1: Establish an Exit Strategy Early
While it's important for you to safeguard your investments and interests, it's equally important that any business partners do the same. This is why it's so helpful to establish an exit plan at the very beginning of your relationship.
This is a hard topic to discuss. Nobody wants to talk about the worst-case scenario, especially when spirits are high at the beginning of a new business venture. But getting this out of the way now can save a lot of trouble and headache at the end. It might even be enough to save any friendships you've developed over the course of time.
Step 2: Agree on the Roles You Will Play
It's also important to agree on the individual roles you'll each play in the business right from the start.
According to entrepreneur Joe Mellin, it's important to establish the right expectations at the start of any business relationship. Not only does this clarify your specific duties and responsibilities, but it's also a great way to split up the work equally among all partners. It also makes it easier to pick up the slack for a partner that's recently been let go.
Step 3: Avoid Angry Communications
You might feel hurt, angry or disappointed over a failing business partnership. These feelings are perfectly normal, but take care to avoid communicating with your partners when you're feeling emotional.
It's all too easy to say something you don't mean or something you'll regret in the heat of the moment. Take some time to calm your nerves before leaving that voicemail or hitting send on that email. Your reasonable side will thank you later.
Step 4: Seek Professional Guidance or Assistance
Certain scenarios might require professional intervention. This doesn't necessarily mean you or your partner are more difficult than the norm -- finance specialists and attorneys are here for reasons like this. The presence of legal counsel isn't even indicative of a stressful breakup.
Instead, think of it as an insurance policy that is meant to protect the rights, assets and investments of everyone involved. Not only does this ensure a fair deal for you and your former business partner, but it can also help preserve any genuine friendships or bonds that have already formed.
Step 5: Explore Additional Options
Some business partnerships can be saved by thinking outside the box and exploring all your options. Instead of calling the whole thing off, you might be able to lessen your partner's responsibilities and, in turn, their potential for return.
This is a great way to mitigate some of the smaller issues and disagreements that might be affecting the growth of your joint venture. You might even be able to buy your partner's share of the business or sell your own, which is helpful when one entity wants out of the deal but another wants to remain.
Pursue an Outcome That Benefits Everyone
As the old adage goes, breaking up is hard to do. Monetary investments and long-term partnership agreements can complicate matters even further. Despite the implications, a business venture can be ended in a way that is mutually beneficial and satisfactory for everyone involved.