Starting a partnership is a delighting time, filled with celebrations of successes, shared vision, and new challenges. During the great times, especially when the business is really booming, keeping a close relationship on the ground while still running a business is so easy. However, what do you do when you don’t agree with your business partner and the honeymoon is over?
The one certainty with close relationships is that disagreements may arise. At the time, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, and get emotional, particularly when money is on the line and stakes are high.
Partnership disputes don’t have to throw the business into a tailspin. In this piece, we have outlined five tips that will help you contain disagreements, find a resolution, which leaves your business, and partnership, safety intact.
1. Plan ahead
Consider getting a formal partnership agreement, if you don’t have one, and review it. It should include:
• Guidance to follow when dissolving the partnership.
• The process of handling cash.
• Responsibilities and roles of each partner.
• A dispute resolution terms and procedures or clauses to follow when you are not in agreement.
Additionally, try to cut topics that you know will likely lead to conflict down the road.
2. Have a listening session
This is where each individual agrees to sit and keenly listen to the other’s opinion and position, without reacting or speaking, for a set time – normally around three to five minutes. It is a useful tool for giving each side insight into the other partner’s position and cooling tempers.
In a business partnership, all that matters is how each partner feels once the dispute is resolved and not who wins. If there is a side that feels resentful and marginalized, that result can likely poison the business, and the partnership, over time. It is remarkably useful to practice active listening as it can ease an ongoing tension and make every side feel heard.
3. Do not rush to judgement
For many Operators and owners of a small company, each decision can seem deeply personal, and large. When your business partner disagrees with you on a problem that is essential to you, it can be easy to switch into a battle mode.
Always remember the larger picture; you both entered into this business partnership because you shared a vision. If you genuinely value your business partner, you have to appreciate his viewpoint on the issue at hand, even if you do not agree with it.
4. Don’t be afraid to get help
A neutral third party can really help warring partners find a solution to their disputes. Meditators are usually trained to handle conflicts of all kinds, meaning that using one can result in a faster resolution and cleaner dispute. A mediator will also ensure that none of you is feeling ripped off when leaving the negotiating room or table.
Sometimes, hiring a professional business lawyer or mediator may not sound appealing. If that’s the case, consider using a colleague or friend, though the individual you choose should be trained in handling conflicts, and fully neutral.
5. Get legal advice
Consider getting legal advice, if resolving partnership disputes with an external mediator or on your own doesn’t seem to work. A commercial litigation lawyer in Sydney like Streeter Law Firm will set out your obligations and rights in the conflict and can aid avoid you having to take your issue to court.
Disputes are a given, but you cannot lose sight of the bigger goal or objective: to resolve partnership disputes as amicably and effectively as possible, for you and your business partner to keep running a growing and healthy business. The above tips on handling disputes with your partner will definitely help you both to work together towards your goal of finding success.