"Sparring Partners" continues INC.'s valuable tradition of exploring business as a personal as well as a financial phenomenon. There was no mention in the article, however, of preventative measures for dealing with potential problems before they turn into full-fledged fights. As an attorney specializing in small business start-ups, I am aware that emotionally charged issues between partners exist from the beginning, and can be recognized and dealt with long before they pose a threat to the business.

One such preventative measure is to employ a neutral, experienced business adviser or lawyer to negotiate a written partnership agreement for a new business. Sensitive financial and personality issues can be discussed and dealt with at this stage, preventing future misunderstandings and giving the partners confidence in their ability to constructively work through touchy issues. It is important, of course, to choose attorneys and advisers who have good listening skills and who are not afraid to deal with emo tional issues. Taking the time to talk it over in the early days is a good invest ment in securing an emotionally as well as financially successful enterprise.