Olympic disqualifications are a sad part of the world of sports but they showcase an inescapable reality. That is, even people who are part of a team let their ambition undermine their collective goals. The result is sabotaging team efforts for a variety of reasons, none of which are justifiable. The same is unfortunately true in the world of business. Professionals partner together to get the best of unique individual skill sets. It’s an arrangement that’s designed to propel a business forward to profit and thrive but this only happens when both partners work with mutual goals.
How to Deal with a Bad Business Partner
If you’re dealing with a bad business partner, you might well be ready to follow the Brexit vote and jump ship. But that means abandoning all your hard work and admitting some level of failure. No entrepreneur likes the prospect of facing such circumstances and this is why too many stay in bad business relationships. Justifications are easy to assuage anger and mask embarrassment but in the end, won’t be enough.
How you deal with a non-performing business partner depends, primarily, on two factors: the type of business organizational structure you have in place and any written agreements that exist between the owners regarding disputes and buyouts. One of the most difficult aspects of business management is getting rid of an owner in a closely held company, as small businesses often are. Without proper upfront conflict planning, there are typically few options other than to dissolve the business and reform it with a better choice of partners. —Houston Chronicle
It’s better to resolve the differences to move on and make it work. One of the most agonizing aspects of business is having to make tough, unpopular choices but in the real world, you must do so and probably more often than you like. Not all business relationships will sour but many will come to an end for one or more of many reasons. When you’re in a partnership, you’ll have to compromise now and again, which is expected. But when the situation becomes untenable, although it’s not part of your plan, you must face it professionally. I have personally faced some challenging business partner separations, and I did my best to face them professionally and take the high road even though I wanted to bring in my attorney to fight it out. Here are some helpful suggestions for how to deal with a bad business partner:
- Be willing to admit there’s a problem. While you have a laundry list of complaints, these are just the result of deeper problems. It’s human nature to focus on what’s most annoying rather than the true source of strife. Excuses and rationalizations are convenient scapegoats but they will not solve any issues. Be willing to admit one or more real problems exist or you won’t be able to deal with the circumstances effectively.
- Focus on the real issues. After you’ve identified the actual problems, you need to step back and take a holistic look. The problems are indicative of the real issues, which might boil down to just a few concerns. By drilling down and putting the emphasis on a couple of issues, you are able to come-up with workable solutions. Tackle the issues from different angles to provide choices rather than ultimatums.
- Have an honest conversation. Of course, you should set time aside to voice your concerns and to listen to the concerns of your partner. You might be alerted to something you are completely unaware of or did not fully recognize. Be honest and keep it professional or the conversation will lead to an argument and more chaos.
- Set boundaries and discuss expectations. If you are able, set some boundaries and discuss your expectations. Let your partner do the same otherwise you are simply dictating and not working together to right the situation. Be willing to agree to certain concessions and work out compromises where necessary.
- Walk away when the situation is futile. One thing which makes partnerships so difficult is the need to please two different personalities. Sometimes, this cannot be achieved, no matter the compromise or efforts put into the endeavor. Recognize when the situation is futile and be willing to walk away for your own benefit and peace-of-mind. I did this as a documented partner in my last business where I walked away from significant assets despite the other partner’s claim there “was no value” and today the company thrives … which is why he fought for it because he knew it had considerable value. In the end, I chose to walk and not allow the circumstance to outweigh the relationship.
Have you dealt with a bad business partner? What is your experience in partnerships? Have you found effective ways of turning a bad situation around? Did you end the business relationship and if so, how? Please share your experiences and thoughts!