Conflicts are bound to happen in any relationship, including those with business partners. When these happen, you need to handle them carefully in order to avoid the partnership breaking down completely. Often these disputes are about the way the business is managed, allegations of misconduct, allocation of resources, or an imbalance in the workloads; these are just a few examples. So, what should you do if you and your business partner have a dispute that needs to be settled? Here are some tips to help you if you get into a dispute.
Before you enter into a business partnership, you should sit down with your partner and a lawyer and draft up an agreement that clearly outlines everyone’s expectations and obligations in the business. You can include in the agreement the steps you should take if there is a dispute so that even conflict resolution is spelled out in advance. In addition to explaining what should be done during a dispute, another thing that should be included is what happens if a dispute cannot be reached. If that occurs, it may be prudent to include an option that one partner can buy out the other for a set price.
Sometimes you really need a third party to listen to the dispute and help you come to an agreement. A mediator is trained to handle disputes and having one step in during a conflict can often help you come to an agreement much faster than trying to simply sort it out yourselves. They know what is needed to make sure each side is fairly heard, and that the outcome is a good compromise that makes both parties happy. Sometimes when you are in a conflict it can be hard to see a side other than your own. This is why bringing in a mediator is a great way to help you resolve disputes with your partner.
This is one of the key factors in any conflict resolution. Before you decide to go to any more drastic measures, try sitting down with your business partner and discussing what the problem is from both sides. Actively listen to each other and be respectful. Each side has a turn to speak without being interrupted, then you ask each other questions and discuss things, addressing the issues you each have; focus on the solution and how to get there instead of dwelling on the problem. Both sides need to be willing to compromise, and often an agreement can be reached from simply talking to each other. Make sure that whatever agreements are reached in the dispute are written out, in case you need to go over the document again in the future. Try to avoid taking the dispute personally, that can make it harder to see your partner’s side of the conflict and hamper attempts to find a compromise.
Consult with Your Attorney
If you have tried negotiations and mediation and the conflict remains unresolved or gets worse, you may need to seek legal counsel to settle the matter. Reaching out to legal counsel sooner than later will help prevent things from getting too ugly. Your lawyer can help you determine what to do based on the terms that are in your partnership agreement. If you end up having to consult your attorney, you can discuss the need for a civil suit. If this is necessary, the civil suit can help to take control of the business from one partner or force a buyout.