Buying a Business with a Partner? Plan Ahead
“A friendship founded on business is a good deal better than a business founded on friendship.” – John D. Rockefeller
For a variety of good reasons people partner up to purchase a business, whether it be one partner contributing the funds and the other putting in the time and knowledge or both simply deciding to split up the responsibilities.
Sometimes one person may not have all necessary skills to operate a business and needs a partner or a team to round out the required talent roster. As long as ample forethought and planning goes into the formation of a partnership it can, indeed, be a great way to achieve a business acquisition.
Since partners are liable for the business activities of the other, and a partnership is typically much easier to get into than to get out of, you’ll want to achieve mutual clarity upfront. Engage a good business attorney to draft legal documents that are specifically tailored to your business circumstances. You may wish to discuss the following two documents with your attorney.
1) Shareholders or Operating Agreement – This document details the duties and responsibilities of each partner.and should establish division of labor including who’ll be responsible for making purchase decisions; how much capital each will contribute; who owns what; how decisions will be made, how profits will be shared, and how disputes will be resolved.
2) Buy-Sell Agreement – This contract will outline who will be entitled to what if the partnership doesn’t work out. It should address what would happen if one of the partners decides to leave the business, or if somebody gets divorced, or sick and won’t be able to work, or even die.
Just like a good marriage, you believe your business partnership will last. However, circumstances and people change over time, and it’s better to discuss possible solutions for problematic situations in advance.