Partnerships can be a great way to start or grow a business. You find a great person who seems to have the same goals and visions. They also happen to have a lot of strengths in areas where you are either weak or less interested. It seems like the perfect match.
Then it starts. Small at first. Just an inclination that the other person isn’t pulling their weight. Then, the more you look at it, the more it seems like you’re doing all of the heavy lifting while your partner is reaping a lot of benefit with far less effort.
Approaching this topic with your partner can be difficult. Especially since you started the partnership with trust and high hopes for what you were going to do together. Here are some tips for what to do when the balance isn’t what you had in mind.
Talk about your concerns
Before your inclination turns into resentment and dispute, talk to your partner about their contributions to the team. There’s no need to suffer in silence. Take the time to discuss what you are doing and what your partner is doing to move the business forward.
It’s possible that your partner is doing work behind the scenes that you are not aware of. It’s also possible that your partner doesn’t realize how unequal the division of labor feels for you. By talking about the amount of responsibilities you both have and how they are divided, you may be able to resolve this issue before it becomes a bigger one.
After talking about the roles and responsibilities you each have and how much work you’re both doing, it might be an appropriate time to renegotiate the roles you have in the business. It’s great that you both can embrace your strengths, but are there areas where you both are avoiding some of the same things?
Use this opportunity to talk about who does what and how much effort that task takes. If you need to, reassign some of the tasks until the distribution feels more appropriate for both of you.
Renegotiate partnership percentages
The good news about a partnership is that it doesn’t have to be a 50/50 split. If your role, by nature, brings a heavier burden with it, you and your partner can renegotiate how much your “share” of the business is worth.
Often, there is not a perfect 50/50 split of labor between partners. Most of the time, one of the roles will require more time, effort or knowledge. And that is completely normal. This should be a key part of negotiating or renegotiating the partnership to avoid disagreements in the future.
Dissolve the partnership
In the event that you and your partner simply cannot agree on how to handle the division of responsibilities for the business, dissolution is an option. While it may not be what you had in mind when you got started, starting the dissolution process early and before there are hurt feelings and resentment can help both of you end the partnership peacefully.