Setting up a salon with a business partner can make a lot of sense at the beginning – pooled capitol and knowledge, complementary skills and a shared determination to see your start-up succeed can all make for what can appear to be a perfectly balanced partnership. But what happens when that partnership starts to sour and the salon suffers as a result?

Like marriage, no one goes into a business partnership expecting it to fail. So it’s wise to acknowledge that things may not always be as harmonious as they are right now. “People and businesses all change over time, so preparing ahead is a smart and wise thing to do,” says business expert Sally Gregg. “At the time of putting together your partnership agreement, be sure to dedicate time to creating a dissolution strategy. It should outline that in the event of a death, severe injury, or personal differences, how the business will react and handle it.”

SIGNS OF TROUBLE

Someone has ‘clocked off’
If one partner is slacking off from their duties, it creates a more stressful situation for the other, says Sally. “If one partner feels like they’re being unfairly burdened by the other partner’s duties, it can create a tense and hostile environment. That said, this isn’t an unsalvageable situation, if you see the channels of communication open. Discuss what’s happening and ways that it might be fixed.”

Disagreements are frequent 
A certain level of disagreement is healthy in a business relationship; it ensures that we look at things from different angles, and encourages us to look for the best possible outcome for our business. But when those disagreements no longer come to an amicable conclusion, and the tension is ongoing, it could be a sign of something bigger. “If it gets to the point that you’re disagreeing just for the sake of it, that should set off alarm bells. When disagreements are more about winning an argument than bettering the business, you’re on shaky ground.”

Working styles no longer work
At the beginning, you loved that your partner kept in their lane, working from home and looking after the finances while you ran the salon. But now, that arrangement is grating on you. “For sure you should always be open to talking about changing your working styles and arrangements, because of the changing nature of businesses and our own needs, but if you just can’t come together in a way to make it work, then maybe it’s just not working anymore,” says Sally.

HOW TO MAKE A CLEAN BREAK

Be calm
Request a meeting and have your points written down. “Don’t invite your partner for a fight. That’s not going to help the situation at all. Rather, have your grievance ready to go, and calmly outline how they are effecting yourself and, in your opinion, the business,” says Sally.

Know your priorities
Have a solution to offer. If it is that you sell out, then have a figure ready to go. Likewise, if you’d like to buy out your partner, or bring on a new partner, have some research to present. “Don’t necessarily expect that your partner will also have this research, and what you don’t want to do is make them feel ambushed. Rather, tell them what your priorities are, and ask that they haver a think about their own before you meet again to flesh out a plan,” says Sally.

Get help
“Just like when a marriage breaks down, a breakdown in a business partnership is a good time to accept professional help,” says Sally. “Whether you bring in a mediator or a solicitor to go through options, be sure that it is someone you both agree on. The person should be impartial and have both your interests at heart.”

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