You started your business with a person who you thought shared your values and was as committed as you were in making the business work -- but over time, you’ve drifted apart. If your disagreements have gotten bad enough, you might not be communicating much at all -- and that’s not going to be good for your bottom line. Your continued cooperation is essential for the success of your business, so don’t let that bad blood continue. Reconnect with your business partner as soon as possible. Here’s how.
1. Swallow your pride
The first step in the process is to give up any grudges or bad feelings you’ve been harboring about your business partner. If you’re really committed to the health of your business, something has to give. If you show that you’re willing to work out your differences, there’s a good chance your partner will do the same. If you continue to dig in your heels and to demonstrate that you’re not willing to work things out, he probably won’t either.
Outside the office (where the mood can be lighter), have a sit-down with your business partner and ask him for his ideas for renewing your relationship. Asking for his input shows you’re ready to work things through. If he seems unwilling to work things out, gently remind him that a poor relationship among you can make the client’s experience suffer.
2. Schedule a regular one-on-one
If you’re both still on board and ready to move forward, avoid the problem of disconnection by scheduling a time to stay connected. Set a time for you to meet one-on-one, without other people involved. Ahead of the meeting, set an agenda so that you’re both able to air your grievances as well as move forward on new business.
3. Get help from a third party
If your one-on-one meetings aren’t helping you reconnect and smooth things over with your business partner, it might be time to get some help. It can be expensive, but there are business mediators out there whose job it is to help business partners resolve their differences and get back to the business at hand. Having that third party can help you both come up with a solution that works for everyone.
4. Review (or create) the partnership agreement
If you didn’t start the business with a partnership agreement in place, it’s high time you create one. These agreements lay out the details of the partnership, including who does what, the profit structure, and your expectations for one another. Even if you do already have one in place, it can be helpful to review the agreement every few years to ensure you’re both on the same page. If you’ve drifted apart, it may be because your roles have evolved and are no longer as clear as they once were. An attorney or mediator can also be helpful for drawing up this all-important document -- but just make sure the document is not so steeped in legal-ese that you don’t know what it says.
Without the full cooperation of both business partners, your business is not going to fare well over time. With that in mind, do what you can to repair your relationship with your business partner right away.