Things can get messy when you run a business with your ex, but they don’t have to if you take intentional steps to separate the romantic relationship from the professional. Here are five mistakes to avoid if you want to keep the business up and running.
1. Not being organized
Running a business can be a very time-consuming and demanding task even without having your ex as a business partner, which is why it’s essential to be organized and have a system in place. If you find yourself struggling to keep track of your finances, your clients, or your employees, it may be a sign that you and your business partner need to sit down and reorganize your business.
One of the biggest reasons many businesses go under is not having a system to pay off any outstanding business debt you and your partner accrue. Unfortunately, the bills can mount up quickly. If there’s no accountability in place for bookkeeping and accounting, then business debt becomes a problem quickly. Consider working together to figure out how to pay off debt fast with low income in the early phases of your business so that you can develop a system that serves you as you expand. If your business is already growing, using the methodology of paying off debt with less revenue than you already generate will only help get your business solvent faster.
2. Not agreeing on roles and responsibilities
If you and your ex aren’t on the same page regarding business roles and responsibilities, it can be difficult to run a successful business together. Make sure you both have a clear understanding of who’s responsible for what, ideally before starting your business. If you can’t agree, try to get help from a third party to help divide the responsibilities.
3. Not communicating effectively
When running a business with anyone, one of the most important things you can do is maintain an open line of communication. If you and your ex can’t effectively communicate, it could lead to tension and conflict. This can ultimately damage your relationship and your business. It’s critical to find a way to communicate with each other that works for both of you to continue to operate your business smoothly.
4. Not respecting each other’s time
When working together, it’s important to remember that you both have other commitments outside of work too. Not respecting each other in this way will only lead to resentment. Respect each other’s time and don’t take advantage of the situation.
5. Not having an exit strategy
If you’re planning on business partnering with your ex, make sure you have an exit strategy in place. This means planning for the chance that things don’t work out or when you feel like it’s time to move on. This could involve selling the business or finding someone else to partner with. It’s essential to have an exit strategy so that you don’t get stuck in a situation where you’re both unhappy and unable to move forward.
If you and your ex are already in business together and don’t have an exit strategy established, now is the time to sit down and set one up. Discuss the percentage each partner holds of the business and how one or both of you can exit the partnership while the business stays open. Get everything in writing and bring in a professional mediator if you need to. Having your exit strategy in place now will be much easier than trying to hash out ownership and valuations in court later.
The bottom line
Running a business with your ex can be tricky, but if you avoid these five mistakes, you’ll be on your way to a successful partnership that keeps hurt feelings at a minimum and ensures the business remains successful.