One of the areas I’ve focused a lot on the past few years is helping to dissolve partnerships within successful companies. And I stress successful because the issues causing this dissolution rarely crop up when fighting for survival and/or market share.

Long term partnerships are very much like a marriage in that both come together for a purpose – to build a business and a life. But over time the partners grow with different interests, needs and desires and that can mean growing apart. Hitting that fork in the road where one takes path A while the other takes path B is inevitable and difficult. How you navigate that walk determines the success or failure, not just of the business but also the relationship. Therefore, in order to ensure success you must answer a simple question:

“Are you simply taking separate paths around the mountain eventually meeting up on the other side or are you on a completely divergent course?”

In order to answer you must first deal with the business because it’s the proverbial Golden Goose and must be protected at all costs. Here are a few tips I use to do just that:

  • Take the time to separately and honestly identify where you see yourself within the company five years from now. Invariably one partner has either scaled back leaving the other still wanting to grow the company or both may want out. Either way, this answer helps to determine next steps.
  • Determine where the company NEEDS to be in the next five years to protect your personal interests. Again, the Golden Goose that’s fueling the rest of your life and how you got here in the first place.
  • Identify the work to be done in order for the business to get there. Lay out the key tasks necessary to achieve success and divvy them up to better clarify what is required of each partner going forward.
  • Do you really want to assume that role? Here is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Are you willing to pay the price for success or are you simply done? Or do you fall somewhere in-between. Whatever the answer is it’s OK because that’s where you are in life.

If you’re all in then no problem. But if you’re done or somewhere in-between then you need to have THE conversation as to how you’re going to exit. It’s a normal conversation that has to occur at some point unfortunately, like in a lot of relationships it rarely occurs – until things go wrong.

So WHEN the warning signs occur there’s but one choice, have the conversation now while things are going great and emotions aren’t so high as opposed to waiting until things eventually go wrong. That is if you truly value the friendship.


As alwaysThese are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to pile on, please do so.  I look forward to the conversation.