There comes a time in every business partner’s career when they want to sell or leave. Their reasons may be because it is time to retire, or they are looking for a change or new challenges. Sometimes the issue is the partner – just as marriages end, so do business partnerships.
Every business partnership is different and has its chemistry, whether it involves two, three or more partners. Navigating these challenges can be worth it for the financial reward and professional success, but it may be time for you or them to leave.
Common red flags
One or more of these may apply:
- Meetings: Rather than being a time for planning, problem-solving or simple updates, they are a litany of petty grievances, crises level anxiety over minor issues, or a general indicator of low morale among leadership or the entire team.
- Unclear roles: Partners may not have clearly defined roles. This confusion leads to inefficiency, unvoiced performance expectations, and the wrong person leading at the wrong time rather than the one with expertise and skills in a particular area.
- Shared vision: Everyone may have started with the same ideas, but they are going in different directions or have other ideas for reaching agreed-upon goals.
- Decision-making: This becomes a back-and-forth debate until one partner gives up. The arguments are more about who is right and less about addressing the issue. Employees can feel the stress, leading to a toxic and unproductive work environment.
- Resentment: The longer the partnership, the more likely a list of grievances evolves. Neither side feels heard or respected. It also may be a matter where one partner is stuck with a role they do not want.
- Risk: People have different tolerances of risk. Some like living on the edge or trying new ideas, while others want a steady operation. While nearly everyone is somewhere between these opposites, their relationship with risk is typically a core value that does not shift quickly.
How many flags did you count?
A few flags are par for the course, but several are worth noting (especially if one of them is a risk issue). The flags themselves may not be the problem; instead, it is an inability to address and resolve them. People can change and adapt when needed, but the ship may have sailed. The next step is planning the divorce or exit strategy.