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  • robmarkwell

Business Partnerships: When the Love Affair Turns Sour

Like most friendships and love affairs, business partnerships start off with all the right intentions, energy, and synergy.

But just like friendships and marriages, not all stand the test of time.


And the list of reasons for the demise of something once perfect is just as long in business than it is in love. From big disagreements, loss of interest from one party to mistakes and deception. Or just simply drifting apart.


Similar to when many marriages are being tested, rarely is help sought early enough to avoid a break up. Or when a break is unavoidable, to ensure the separation is as fair, painless and productive for all.

Marriages can often involve children and we all know that the longer Mum & Dad don’t see eye to eye, the more the children suffer.


In the case of business partnership, the children are the business and all its employees. The business partners may have created the company but it is their duty to put the company before themselves. Always easier to say than done, especially in times of internally conflict. The fight to be right often sets in.



The world and its economies are continuously moving the goalposts with markets being disrupted by new trends and technology. It is my firm belief that every organisation has a small window in which to grow and capitalise on return.


An organisation that stands still due to internal conflict can quickly lose customers and, more importantly, its best people.


Businesses who can effortlessly execute daily tasks with grace and military precision are not only attractive to customers but to employees. Who doesn’t want a supplier or employer who knows exactly what they are doing and executes every aspect of business like an Olympic synchronised swimming team?


This cannot happen with discord and/or lack of alignment between owners. You may think you are keeping it behind closed doors but you’re not. Teams and clients will pick up on it and it will spread into all corners of your operation.


But this isn’t just a legal and financial conundrum, it’s primarily an emotional one. You still remember when it was just the two of you, the late nights, the working out of the spare room/garage, the stories shared, the friendships built and the loyalty over all the years. It’s not an easy fix but it is more common than one thinks.


The only truth which 99% of cases share, is that the real focus must be how the business is put into the right hands and re-establishes aligned and clear leadership to ensure it flourishes. Exiting a business partner or being the one exiting is not a pleasant process.

That’s why I’d urge anybody who feels trapped in unproductive business partnership to seek the support of a third party such as BlueInk to help mediate for the interest of the business. I have seen breaks ups being avoided and partnerships growing stronger for it. I’ve also seen painful splits that have cost the business greatly in the short run, only to help it rebuild better in the long run.

We all should put our “children” first. That it be an Ltd or a little human.

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