I get opportunities to speak to business owners all over the world. My focus is how you can build a business you aren’t trapped in, that enable you to have the life you want. It’s about life and business transformation. One common problem people have is partners who make life difficult. This is no fun for anyone. So what do you do?


Note – I’m not talking about this from a legal perspective as I’m not an attorney. I’m just bringing up the point from the person who is having to live through it (business owner) and the relationship between them and the partner who is not ideal.

1. Different Directions
One thing you will notice that builds frustration faster than anything and is a sign you might not have a perfect fit is when you have two different ideas of how the business should be run and directions to take it. For example: One person thinks that selling small businesses a small service one-on-one and another thinking that you need to sell bigger companies bigger packages. It’s just two different views and neither one is necessarily wrong, it just means that you will be pulling in different directions.

2. Different Values
What is important to you? Is that same thing important to your partner? Take an example of honesty. If you are a straight shooter and your partner likes to bend the truth. This can get you into a situation where you are expected to deliver something that wasn’t honestly sold. Your name can be tarnished if this behavior isn’t sorted out.

3. One Person Carrying the Other
I have seen this, where you have one person who is continuously having to get the other partner to do their basic job, whatever is expected of them. This is actually frustrating for both. The person who is having to keep the partner in alignment feels a real drag in this situation and the person who is on the receiving end just feels his partner is pestering him and doesn’t understand why he doesn’t back off. Again, it’s just a difference in views.

4. Lack of Written Agreements
Getting into a new business venture can be very exciting, so exciting that you just throw all the “slow paperwork” out the window and get rolling as you can sort it out later. The less you have worked out upfront, the harder it is to get that sorted out later. If you don’t have much documented, you should figure out a way to get that nailed down right away, which will help you keep everyone holding up their end of the bargain and give you a way to sort it out if someone isn’t.

5. Different Levels of Commitment 
I have seen this one happen for a number of reasons. At first everyone is excited, but one partner doesn’t see a good way to contribute to the motion and so they start to withdraw from the venture, even mentally, the result being less and less contribution. You turn around after a few years and wonder what the other person is even doing. You can also have something more innocent, like being in two different places in life. I had a partner in the past who was just at a different place in life. Nothing wrong with that, I could just see that it wasn’t a perfect fit and so we worked out a buy out that was a win-win.

6. Arguments
If you have arguments often and notice that these are unresolved, so you are rehashing the same issues over and over. This is usually a sign of one or more of the other points above being out. Sometimes these can be resolved by communicating often and regularly in a way that both parties want to sort it out.

Before Making Any Decisions
I always start with ensuring that really look at what I might be doing that is creating a rub. Sometimes there can be things that I am not even aware of that I am doing. So I challenge you to look at, not how you are right in the situation, but how you might be contributing to the problem. If you can find things you are doing creating a rub, then start with changing this behavior and see how this impacts the relationship.

These are just some of the signs that you might not be in a right fit in your business partnership. There are many factors that weight in on what you will do about if you decide that you want to end ties. I wrote another post that will give you some helpful information on What To Do If you Want to End a Business Partnership.

Hope this helps.

Rafferty Pendery