Dear Aunty B,
I started a design business a year ago with my friend. It is traveling OK but it is at the stage where it needs a big push. My partner, however, only wants to work the equivalent of two days a week and is happy with the way the business is going. She is also really good at the sales and marketing side so I am reluctant to let the partnership go. What do you think I should do?
There is only one answer: you have to get her out of the business now.
The problem is that your values and goals are different. Your business partner has just bought herself a job. She wants a hobby business and a little salary to help pay for the trip to Noosa or those astronomical private school fees that go up at whim.
You, Sally, want your business to grow. You are a business builder and rule 101 of business is that business builders should never get into bed with business hobbyists.
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It is a very unhappy partnership and these are differences that cannot be resolved.
Sit down with the hobbyist and outline your plans for the future of the business. Discuss what roles she could take and stress that all partners in a business put in money or skills. There are no free riders. When she understands she either has to bankroll the business or work the long hours that you are, offer to buy her out. Maybe you can employ her as a consultant. That way she still has her nice little salary but will not block your ambitions.
If she does not accept the offer, suggest you get the business independently valued and offer to pay her out again.
Remember, Sally: the worst mistake that entrepreneurs make is choosing the wrong business partner.
Usually the reason for the breakup is that the business partners see the future differently and it is crucial to address this question at the start.
And act now. The longer you put up with this, the more damage it will do your business and the worse your stress will get.