Photo by Chris Liverani 

As we all know, most relationships between people, whether family, friends or business partners, will involve disagreements now and then. It is a reality that is easy, but potentially expensive, to overlook in business. If business owners accept this reality and commit to determining how partnership disputes will be resolved from the outset, they will be driving the train and not vice versa. For instance, the partners should discuss the possibility of including mediation or arbitration provisions in their governing documents, whether that includes an Operating Agreement, Partnership Agreement, Shareholder Agreement, a Buy Sell Contract, or a combination of governing documents. Mediation and arbitration are typically far more cost-effective options than litigation. Without mandating this resolution in a dispute in governing/formation documents there will be no requirement for the parties to engage in alternative dispute resolution.

Other important issues to discuss in the planning phase include what will happen in the event one of the key owners becomes unable to perform his or her obligations to the business partnership, or decides to sell their interest in the business. If your business’ controlling documents don’t provide a roadmap to address these and other common issues, then you could end up with a new partner in the business that you can’t work with, don’t want to work with, or even worse, one who’s interests are not aligned with the well-being of the business. Many business partnerships have failed because of completely foreseeable events simply because the partners did not plan for worst case scenarios.