Breaking up is easy to do

I have a close friend who is now happily married, but was great at breaking up with girls in his single days.  He’d take them to a public place (usually a Starbucks), tell them how wonderful they are, but gently let them know that long term they aren’t the right fit for him.  He must have done something right because all of them (except one) continued to think he was a great guy (which he is).  Oddly enough, he had a streak where he’d dump them and then a couple months later they’d meet the person they would end up marrying.  We used to joke that he should write a book on it.

Breaking up a relationship shouldn’t be that hard, especially if there was no pregnancy or property bought together.  I’ve seen tons of cases where a puppy causes the unhappy couple to still have to see each other, but otherwise a clean break can happen.

However, if you want to break up a business in Illinois, it’s only going to do be smooth if one of two things happen.  1. You and your partners agree on EVERYTHING there is to agree on; or 2.  You and your partners were smart enough to sign a partnership agreement that dictates what to do when one of you wants out.

Things seem to happen in threes and within the last two weeks I’ve had three calls from people that wanted out of a business.

The first had a partnership agreement and simply needs to have it enforced.  Basically this means he needs to notify his partner that he wants to be bought out for an amount that is pre-determined by their agreement or to put their business up for sale.  He needs a lawyer, but it shouldn’t take too long or cost too much.

The second also had a partnership agreement with his five partners.  He wants to retire and was just trying to make sure that what he signed was valid.  It appears that he was and he was going to call me back only if things didn’t work out when he approached the other founders.  I haven’t heard back so far and doubt I ever will.

The 3rd had a verbal understanding which now, of course, no one agrees on as to what was said.  He wants out of a business that is taking on a ton of debt that he personally guaranteed.  He also suspects that his partner is hiding money.  This means litigation and likely lots of costs out of his pocket.  It’s probably worth it because the business has been making money too and has received previous buy out offers, but instead of being done with in a couple of months, it could take years.

A buy/sell agreement is basically a pre-nup for your business.  If you don’t have one, you are playing with fire and really not that smart.  It does cost money for an attorney to prepare, but you will save tenfold when one of you wants to get out.

On another note, there are a lot of funny photos I could have used.  Enjoy this gallery.  Lots of people breaking up by i-phone.  Back in my day, if you wanted to cowardly break up with someone you had to stop returning their calls.

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