Most small businesses are formed by two or more friends, family members, or colleagues. Having a previous relationship with your business partner can make it easier to work together day in and day out, but it can also complicate things when you decide you want to end the relationship.
Deciding to End Your Business Partnership
Common reasons one partner may want out of the partnership include:
- An unfair equity split where one partner believes they are doing more work for less compensation
- Disagreements over spending priorities such as the value of marketing and advertising versus investments in new product development
- Believing one partner is showing poor judgment in managing the company’s daily activities
- Having dramatically different opinions on the future of the business
Options for Ending the Partnership
Ideally, you should have a legal agreement in place that outlines how to end the partnership. However, if you formed your business without this crucial step, you are not entirely without options.
Often, the best course of action is to make an offer to buy your partner’s share of the business. A controlling share of the equity is worth more than a minority share, but you will still need to do some additional research to determine a fair offer. An attorney can help you determine what a fair offer might be and draw up an agreement if your bid is accepted.
If you are unable to come to an agreement to buy out your partner’s share of the business, you may be able to end the partnership by filing a lawsuit. This can be time-consuming and costly, but if your partner has engaged in illegal conduct such as fraud, theft, breach of fiduciary duty, or misuse of intellectual property, you may have a solid case. Again, you’ll need to meet with a skilled business law attorney for details.
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