Disputes over money can drive a wedge between the strongest of relationships, whether you’re part of a married couple weighed down by debt, or business partners disagreeing over the best use of the company credit card.
When it comes to business, partners on opposite sides of heavy issues can stifle the ability of the company to get off the ground. If you find yourself frequently arguing over money strategies with your business partner, is it time to split up, or can the partnership be salvaged?
Read on for tips on how to negotiate with your business partner over specific money circumstances that could affect not only your relationship, but the well-being of your business as well.
1.You and your partner disagree about getting a loan
If you’re determined to run your business without taking on much debt, but your partner believes leveraging up is the only way to grow your business, you can easily hit an impasse.
Rather than fighting every time your company is about to make a significant investment and arguing over how to pay for it, sit down with your partner and hash out your borrowing and buying strategy. You should each outline your vision for the company, and how the two of you foresee reaching those goals. Will taking on more debt, in general, bring the company where it needs to be? How much does timing play a role in the ability of your company to succeed? Does your company require a loan immediately, or could you take some time and build up funds on your own, without help from lenders? Are you being realistic about what it takes to keep your business running and expanding?
If you can’t find any middle ground, consider a compromise before you walk away. Let your business partner put their ideas into action and borrow without making you culpable for any personal debt. Your partner can do that in one of two ways: They can write out a detailed business plan and apply for a loan on their own, although if you own equal stakes in your company, it’s likely the bank will reject the proposal. A second option is to give your partner a bigger share of the ownership in the company so that they can assume most or all of the debt. You can do this for either the short term or make it permanent, depending on you and your partner’s goals for the future.
2. You want to dodge the joint business credit card
Your partner wants to open up a business credit card account with you to build credit for your company, but there’s a big problem: They have a reputation for bad spending habits, so much so that you worry you’ll end up in debt.
You can consider setting a low limit on the credit card, just enough to cover necessary business expenses without worrying about your partner buying a big screen TV for the lobby.
3. Your spending habits are out of sync
While there are workarounds for some disagreements, differences in how much money each partner wants to get out of the business will more often than not spell the end of the business partnership. If your partner wants to squeeze every cent from the business venture, while you’re more of an easygoing, I-can-live-off-a-grand-a-month type (or vice versa), you’re going to have a working relationship rife with arguments from day one.
If you are trying to determine if you and your existing partner share similar spending habits (or are considering moving on to a new partner ), make sure you establish as soon as possible whether or not you will be a good fit. In Inc. Magazine, Jordan Dolgin, a Toronto-based lawyer who specializes in business law, recommends asking potential partners questions that establish whether or not you’re financially compatible. Questions include: How much money do you need to be happy? When is an extra week’s vacation more important than the next $10,000 in financial compensation?
By identifying lifestyle choices and preferences from the get-go, you’re more likely to secure a partner who has similar beliefs and values as you do.
4. Your partner is acting shady
When a business partner loses sight of their allegiance toward you by going on a personal spending spree with the company credit card or stealing from an account, it’s time to run, not walk away from the business partnership. You can try to resolve your problems amicably by using a mediator to help you and your partner arrive at an agreement about how to proceed, or consult online resources for dispute mediation. You can also consider various legal options at this point, such as dissolving the partnership with the help of a lawyer, and the possibility of suing for embezzlement or breaches of fiduciary duty.
Whatever the issue is, money problems in general put a severe strain on business relationships, and it’s best to deal with them head-on as soon as possible. By dealing with the issues now rather than later, you can put a halt to a growing problem, turn over a new leaf, and get back to what’s important—running your business as optimally as possible going forward.