SIX SIGNS YOU HAVE A BAD BUSINESS PARTNER
I have been in business since I graduated from law school in 1993. My husband and I started our own tiny little law firm and we practiced law for eight years before entering the world of real estate development in 2001. Real estate went well for a dozen years, until I made the mistake of partnering with the wrong guy. That partnership has given me tremendous insights into what makes a bad business partner.
Sign # 1: An Unsavory Past
The first sign that you have a bad business partner is if you find out that your partner has an unsavory past. He associates with criminals and shady characters. He evades tax. He prefers the criminal element. He is comfortable with illegality.
My ex-partner was charged with conspiracy to commit murder along with two accomplices in the early 1990’s. He allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill a former business partner of his with whom he had a falling out. He was arrested with $16,000 in cash in his sock. Soon thereafter, he was also charged with possession of $2 million of stolen property, including Rolex watches straight from the factory, paintings, and jewelry.
Sign # 2: Loves to Litigate
The second sign that you have a bad business partner is if he loves to litigate. It appears that your partner has sued every person with whom he previously went into business. He believes the courts are the place to resolve disputes.
My ex-partner launched ten lawsuits in the decade before I partnered with him. He sued his employees; he sued his lawyers; he sued his former business partners; he sued his competitors; he sued his wife.
Sign # 3: An Unethical Business
The third sign that you have a bad business partner is if he makes his money offering unethical services. His business provides no lasting value to its clients and customers. He makes money off a service that doesn’t work. He takes advantage of desperate people. He permits unethical behaviour in his business. He sells goods and services that are ineffective.
My ex-partner runs a business that does not work in the long run for the vast majority of his customers. The product has been called dangerous by many in his industry. He had to pay approximately $800,000 to a customer who died using his product.
Sign # 4: Denigrates Those Closest to Them
The fourth sign that you have a bad business partner is if he is prepared to denigrate the people that are closest to him. Rather than treasure his spouse, he puts her down and belittles her. Rather than be loyal to his friends, he talks ill of them behind their backs. Rather than give credit to others, he takes all the credit himself. If someone is prepared to do that to the people he “loves and respects”, imagine what he will do to you.
My ex-partner made derogatory statements about his wife even though he was still with her. He was unable to keep friends because he kept betraying them. He would end a long standing friendship over a few dollars. He didn’t value the people closest to him.
Sign # 5: A Vengeful Personality
The fifth sign that you have a bad business partner is if he demonstrates an overriding desire for retribution. Everything is personal. He doesn’t consider the sensible move or the logical solution. He must punish you for what he perceives you have done to him. And he will lie to accomplish his malign objectives.
My ex-partner refused to sell his half of the business back to me despite an offer that he would receive all of his money back plus a significant profit. He also refused to sell the business privately to maximize its value and ensure everyone was paid back and made a handsome profit. He preferred instead to destroy the value of the business to punish me and to ensure he got his revenge. And he lied to accomplish his objectives.
Sign # 6: No Remorse
The sixth sign that you have a bad business partner is if he shows no remorse. He is never wrong. He is prepared to spend whatever it takes for someone to say that he was right. He will manipulate the process through his high priced advisers for whatever the cost so long as it fulfills his malign objectives. He never wants to have to apologize. He never wants to be wrong. He will pay any price to not have to admit he was mistaken.
My ex-partner hired lawyers, receivers, accountants and private detectives all to try to show the world that he was right and I was wrong. He showed no remorse for destroying our business. He was happy to cause personal damage. He seemed happy to destroy the financial lives of anyone who crossed him. He manipulated the facts with the sole objective of trying to show he was right.
Due diligence about your proposed business partner is critically important. Ask his peers about him. Check out his past behaviour. Had I known beforehand about my ex-partner’s past and personality traits, I would like to think I would have chosen differently.
If you are thinking of partnering with someone who demonstrates the above characteristics, RUN AWAY…don’t walk, run! No matter how good the partnership sounds now, it will end badly. If you are already in business with one of them, plan your exit now, and quickly. People like I have described make very bad partners. They will destroy you if you partner with them.