Being in business with a family member can be such fun! After all, who knows you better than someone who grew up with you? Your likes and dislikes, moods, energy level, trustworthiness and the list goes on. Getting into a business with a family member may have happened in such an organic way that you may not even remember how it even started.
This is how it kind of started with my first business. My brother and I were hard working and had the same but different love in a family farm business. One could say - it was in our blood as with many farm type families. I remember getting some advice when our business venture was still very young about how to end the business relationship.
When the business venture looked like something we were going to seriously pursue together, we talked a little about how our family business might end. After all, things don't last forever. That was when we looked into a partnership and specifically a partnership agreement. I remember thinking when we were going over the details and signing the papers, "we will never use this but is seems like a great thing to have in place ...just in case"
Fast forward about 20 years and to my great surprise out comes the dusty antiqued looking official paper...the partnership agreement. Family business is a very tricky thing and splitting up rarely is what both parties want at the same time. Having that agreement made ahead of time, in our case, made for an extremely business like separation of the business assets. From an asset stand point, I couldn't have asked for a smoother separation of what I originally put into and later brought into our venture. It can be a hard thing to separate physical assets let alone the heart and soul of what someone has put into the business over the last 20 plus years of their lives.
I have had, over the last few years, people who know us ask, "how did you two do it?" How did we terminate our business given our close relationship, complicated business and personal ventures? I can only speak for myself, but having that official plan and guide on how the business was to separate was really a blessing during a rough time. Having never entertained the thought of a separation, I can imagine, would have been a whole lot tougher!
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