Business partnerships are like other relationships. They have ups and downs and at times, partners may have disagreements. When disputes arise, partners need to work toward a resolution. There are many ways to try to handle controversy. If you resolve issues properly it can strengthen the business. But sometimes disagreements can tear a business apart. When a disagreement arises, no matter how large or small, it is best to develop a method for resolution that will be beneficial to everyone.
Negotiation is the first and often the most effective way to resolve a dispute between business partners. To successfully negotiate, you and your partner should schedule a specific time to meet to discuss the matter rather than simply talking about it in passing. Prepare for the meeting with a list of your concerns as well as possible solutions. Be open to discussing the matter fairly and openly. Stick to the topic at hand and do not try to bring past disagreements into the mix. Remember that you both want what is best for your business.
Disagreements that you cannot easily resolve through discussions may require some outside assistance through mediation. A mediator is a third party with training and expertise in helping resolve business disputes. The mediator will meet with the partners to facilitate discussions and help bring a compromise to the dispute. A mediator may be an attorney, retired judge, or someone with extensive experience with dispute resolution. A mediator will help you and your partner cut through the things that do not matter and try to find a suitable answer that will accommodate all parties.
In situations where partners cannot reach a resolution, litigation may be the last step. In some cases, the partners may want to end the relationship or sell the business entirely. One of the parties may want to sell their portion of the business or may want to try to find someone to take over their interest in the company. Litigation is often a final resort and one that might result in a breakup of the business relationship. If the matter has gotten to this point, it is likely harming the business and you must make some decisions for the sake of the company.
Tips for Resolving Conflicts
Remember that compromise is part of every relationship. Although you may not be able to solve the problem in the manner you expected, keep in mind options that will be best for the business moving forward.
Try to handle issues as soon as they arise. Otherwise, problems could fester and result in a major blowout. Put a dispute resolution agreement in place that outlines steps you will take when a situation presents itself. Your attorney will help you draft a contract that will provide a variety of ways to take care of issues so they will not hurt the business. It can also include a way that a partner can get out of the partnership if necessary.
Business disputes can occur for any number of reasons. When they do, you may need to seek legal help with resolution. Contact our lawyers at (608) 784-8310 or email us for a consultation.