People enter into business partnerships every day, sometimes built on longstanding friendships or family connections. In others, it may be two people with similar ideas who decide to join forces.
Unfortunately, like any relationship, a business partnership can sour-especially if one feels the other is no longer trustworthy. But how exactly do you know if they are untrustworthy? Below are 11 warning signs you should not ignore.
The warning signs
1. Unresponsive: If your business partner isn’t calling you back within a timely manner, it may be a sign things just are not working out. Slow response times can indicate they either are not very interested in working together or are unorganized. It also indicates their lack of priority with the relationship, especially when they don’t respond for more than a few days.
2. Your gut nags at you: Don’t ignore your gut instincts. Often, you will be able to look back at past actions or behaviors and see clearly in hindsight what your gut was already trying to warn you about.
3. Inconsistent information: When stories change or the terms of an agreement are not as discussed in your initial correspondence, it’s a sign of dishonesty and unreliability. It may be time for you to consider letting this relationship go.
4. Zero responsibility: When your business partner cannot take responsibility for his or her own actions and wants to blame others, it’s a huge flag you shouldn’t overlook. It’s often best to replace the partner, even if they are personally close to you, because behavior is difficult to change in anyone.
5. Argues small details: It is never a good sign if your partner picks apart details in a contract or makes changes that are small when the agreement was simple. When a partner doesn’t feel they can trust you, the relationship is in trouble.
6. Money never mentioned: People get into business to earn a living and make a profit. If the partners cannot discuss financial aspects of the business, they will not be able to successfully weed out bad business ventures. Money and the company’s bottom line are essential topics partners should discuss.
7. Bait and switch: If, for example, you discuss terms of an agreement with your partner and everyone seems to be on the same page but the contract they have drafted returns with a completely different reflection of that conversation, it’s not a good sign. You either have a terrible listener for a partner or they are completely untrustworthy.
8. No Questions: Another huge flag is when a partner does not have questions or concerns about the agreement or partnership deal. It’s reasonable to expect someone would look for anything that could potentially impact them negatively. If they don’t, it’s usually a sign the deal isn’t going to happen.
9. Arguments over non-disclosure terms: Your partner may not be all that into the business relationship, or you, if they try to argue shorter terms on a non-disclosure agreement.
10. Values conflict: If you or your business partner do not have the same set of core values for the venture, it’s not going to work. You need to be able to trust the two of you will run the business in the same manner. If the business philosophy or work ethics differ, you won’t be able to have that trust.
11. All problems-no solutions: A good business partner will not only point out where there is an issue but also provide an idea for a fix. An untrustworthy partner will offer no solutions to the problems they point out.
If you recognize some of the signs in your partner, it may be time for a change. Speak to an experienced business litigation attorney to learn more about options and possible remedies you may have. A reputable attorney will also have trial experience in the event you need to take the case through that process.