When disputes between partners in a business arise, they can threaten the business more than any competitor can. Even partners with the best intentions are likely to end up at each other’s throats even though they had hoped to avoid such conflict. Here you will learn how to settle disputes between business partners: 8 tips that will make the difference between peace and war.
Stop fighting: As with married couples, disputes between business partners can escalate, causing more damage than either one ever intended. All partners do not need to agree on the underlying reasons for the dispute, but certainly they can agree to stop fighting and start searching for constructive and mutually beneficial solutions before their relationship and their business are beyond repair.
Discover the root of the problem: The resolution of a dispute between business partners requires an understanding of its root causes. Most of the time the problem goes deeper than who left the lights on over night or who was too lazy to take the money to the bank. An honest exploration of the reasons one or more partners are at odds is necessary. Find out if the problem is personal incompatibility, hurt feelings, or a desire for more input into daily operations.
Get neutral parties involved: Those without a stake in the dispute can more accurately determine its underlying problem and path to resolution. Depending on the nature of the partnership and the severity of the dispute you can hire mediators or ask for mutually respected third parties to come in and broker peace. Many businesses form a board of directors that can serve as objective intermediaries when necessary.
Re-evaluate the business: Disputes between business partners may be a good time for them to revise their business plan to accommodate their concerns and make the business more suitable to all parties involved. This way, disputes between business partners can potentially have remarkably positive implications for the business.
Follow your exit strategy agreements: Every partnership should have pre-defined mechanisms in place that provide an escape route when one of the partners cannot continue. For the sake of your business kick in those provisions and make the separation short and sweet.
Don’t let friendships get in the way: The desire to preserve friendships often prolongs disputes between business partners because one or both partners don’t want to see their relationship end. The truth is that disputes usually end friendships as well as business relationships, so there’s no sense risking further damage to the business by trying to avoid that fate.
Have a respectful dialogue: Do what you can to understand your partner’s concerns and try to clearly communicate based on facts, not innuendo or insults. If you can both remember the respect you once had for each other, you will probably be more willing to reach a compromise that will diffuse the situation at hand.
Retain legal counsel: If your partner has really gone over to the Dark Side, you could stand to lose a lot. Even if your dispute hasn’t reached the state of full hostilities, you need to prepare for the worst. Your attorney can review the details of your partnership and be ready to protect your interests should the need arise.
Disputes between business partners can present situations every bit as frustrating and perplexing as those that spouses face. Use these 8 tips to settle differences between business partners. You will find that you can reduce the damage done to your business, and sometimes uncover new opportunities.
James Adams is passionate about business development, particularly online. He works as a full time blogger and analyst at a toner cartridges store based in the UK. He reports the latest tech news and analyses hardware releases such as the MLT-D1082S, but if finds enough free time he also posts on their design blog.