Signs of a Bad Business Partner and some Things You Can Do

So, you’re considering going into business with someone, and you’re wondering if they are a good fit. Well, we cannot tell you that for certain, but here are a few things we have come across talking to people that have had negative experiences with their business partners prior to their split. Some of them are still with the business partner, as they did not plan for this kind of stuff beforehand. Don’t be that person. Do not get stuck with someone that you do not want to be in business with because you were shortsighted in the beginning! You might be at the end of your rope with one partner, and you need a new one. Still no reason to rush into things, scope your potentials out first. It may be time to evaluate your situation.

Most of the things that go on in someone’s life can be directly contributed to who they hang out with and where. This does not only apply in high school, though that is where you probably heard it most, from your teachers and your parents. Watch who you hang out with and all that jazz that we all heard. Turns out, they were all right. We SHOULD watch who we hang out and surround ourselves with. As we gradually became adults and this fact became obvious and apparent to us, most of us cut ties with some people that we may not have wanted to move towards the future with. People still doing the same things they were freshman year, people that were getting in trouble with the law, people that only want to party all the time. These are the kind of people that most of us stopped associating with because we knew we had to do that to be successful right? Same thing applies with business. You must cut the bad fruit off the tree because that thing is rotten and its heavy and it’s bringing everyone else down with it.

What do you do before you enter into a business partnership?

The best way to deal with a bad business partner simply put, is not to go into business with him or her in the first place. If you don’t make the bad decision to begin with, it won’t turn around to bite you later. Common sense, right? If you’re going to consider going into business with someone, you should not weigh your options lightly. All the variables that you might want to consider or take note of should be in a laundry list in your head. You should be analyzing this potential partner’s emotional state, mental state, his or her dependencies, the way they approach and deal with problems, their general vibe or air and the way they carry themselves, whether you think they are prone to irrational decisions or emotional outbursts, do they let the way they feel that day impact potentially lifetime business decisions? All of these are things that you want to be thinking about before you just go and sign a contract with someone willy nilly. Some people take the route of working with a business coach to determine if the person may be a good fit for them and their business. Or if YOU will be a good fit for theirs, maybe you’re the one getting the offer. This way you can see if your goals and desires are compatible and teach and assist you to work through potential problems early on before they become major issues.

If your business is a huge part of your life, as so many businesses are for their owners, then remember, this is likely to be one of the biggest decisions that you make in your life, it isn’t something that you should approach lightly.

If the person always seems to bring problems to the table but never solutions, it’s probably a reg flag. Most people need to relieve some stress every now and then and get some things off their chest. Some people will do that by just talking and letting it out. If this starts to become too frequent and it’s all the person ever does though, it may be a good idea to talk to them about the power of positive thinking. It is always possible for someone to change the way they think and approach problems. Doesn’t matter their age or their personality, they are always able to learn and grown. Some people just aren’t willing to, and THAT is what you will have to diagnose in this situation. Is this person hearing out your concerns and observations, realizing it may be counter-productive and is willing to work on them, or do they not listen, get defensive, and deny that there is a problem in the first place? One of these you can work with, the other it may be time to let go. Now this is where the tricky part comes in. It is going to take effort on BOTH of our parts to help with this. Thought he was the only one who needed to do the work? Wrong. If this is truly a partnership, then you will need to help you partner when they are struggling, trying to change for the better of your progress together, and attempting to adapt to what you have laid out for them and brought to their attention. If you got this ball rolling and they were willing to comply and listen, then you need to be there for them the whole time through. That is what you would want from your partner, is it not? Sometimes it is situations like this where personalities or tendencies clash, that separate the strong partnerships from the weak ones. Overcoming differences and working together is ALWAYS going to be the better option and usually the more profitable one in the long run, for both parties.

signs of a bad business partner

Credit Background and More

We have had all sorts of business partners in all sorts of different businesses over the years. From window tinting and power washing, to roofing services in Richmond and a bail bondsman further in Virginia, we have seen it all. If your potential partner has a questionable credit history, rental background, previous bankruptcies, or they have been cast out or banned from a business or running one, this is probably a red flag and something that you need to look out for. You should also look at the other projects that they have their hands in at the moment. Even the successful, profit-turning projects they are undertaking can give you a glimpse at how they run thing and possible what type of business partner they may be with you. Things you may need to take note of. Deal killers, even. Always be on the lookout for as much information as you can about this person, and if they are smart, be aware that they will probably be on the lookout to collect just as much if not more information about you.

Anything that they have been involved in previously, they should disclose with you. The failures and the successes. If there is something you find out that they have been hiding well, you don’t need us to tell you that is a red flag, do you?

Having a setback is quite normal in the realm of business for entrepreneurs. Though if your partner-to-be is lying about these, you may want to look a little further into that and try to figure out why. You may be surprised what you unearth. Turning a blind eye to it and blindly trusting whatever comes out of their mouth about something that has set off your brains alarm bells is not a good idea. Not smart at all. If you feel like your body or your gut is sending you signals, you should always pay attention to those.

The same exact goals and values, principles and what have you is not necessary in a business relationship. You don’t even need to want the same common outcome sometimes. It can be quite refreshing or helpful to work with someone that has a different goal or value in mind. This is somewhat like the yin and yang from eastern philosophy. The only thing you need to know is what type of communication does your partner usually utilize. If you can figure out the WAY they communicate, you can usually solve problems with ease. Regardless in differences in personality and things like that, there should always be two things that partners always agree on in the realm of business. Those two things are finances, and the jobs that you accept from clients. If you are both always in agreement on those two things, and the decisions that you are making concerning these clients, then you should be good! That is mostly everything right there! If your both honest, hardworking, open communicators that share with each other, help each other when your down, and attack together with both of you on the same page then you are going to be GOLDEN!

The important thing here is that you both (probably) have the same vision. Now, what is even more important is that you both agree on the ways that you’re going to achieve that vision. If you can both do that, everything is most likely going to be a cake walk. If you two do not agree on these things and are always fighting or bickering over money, how it is spent, and how you go after and treat your clients then things are probably not going to last much longer. In that case it may be time to go your separate ways. Again, if your gut is telling you that it is probably not the best decision for you and is prompting you to cut your losses and simply move on, you should probably listen to it. Your brain and your gut are chiming in for a reason. Even if you can’t yet put your finger on what they reason might be, you should not ignore that feeling. Act on it and do what you must do. Hopefully, that is not the case though, and you both are seeing eye to eye and are ready to move forward. You have got your work cut out for you and there’s plenty to be done so no time to waste! Get out there and get cracking, together!

So, before you went into business with this person, you probably signed a partnership agreement, right? When you both sign a contract, you can go over what happens as the company grows and becomes more successful. The most important thing though, is that it can map out an exit plan for you should things ever go sour. This is one of the most important reasons to sign a partnership agreement or contract in the first place. If your potential partner will not sign, it could be a signal that they have something to hide or they might even already be thinking about ways to get out of the business. Either way, neither of the two things are a good sign, and should not be taken with a grain of salt.


We have all dealt with this type of person: the habitual liar. A person that exaggerates and deals in half truths and deceptions, deviating from baseline reality in extremes more often that sticking to what happened. This might be a bad trait to have in a business partner. Someone that is comfortable with lying all of the time might not be the best person to trust with your life’s work or your finances. You may not want to bring this person on board. On the other hand, liars are not always open about their deceits or in your face with them. Some people are so sneaky, you can’t even tell they have stabbed you in the back until your pulling the knife out. So, it goes without saying, even though we decided we would include it, that a liar is most likely not the best choice for a partner.

Mood Swings

If your dealing with an unpredictable and emotional person, they might not be the best option as a business partner. If they are unresponsive, taking long periods of time to respond, days even, then they might not be a good fit. This also might just mean they aren’t a good communicator, and it could be something that needs to be worked on individually and there may still be hope for the two of you. But if they are unable to communicate with you, this could spell out trouble for your business. It is highly likely that they will have communication issues in other areas of your business and possibly with other people regarding important decisions about your financial futures. Yikes. Now that is a scary thought. That is why it is best to avoid this altogether, and if your business partner exhibits any of these traits or is beginning to, it may be time to kick them to the curb.

signs of a bad business partner

Different Skill Sets

Say the two of you are highly skilled, but in different areas. This doesn’t mean that you  aren’t able to work together, in fact it could mean quite the opposite, that you are going to get along great together. This sort of goes back to the yin and the yang part that we mentioned earlier. Say you are REALLY good at the sales aspect of the job, and your partner kills it with the accounting, finances, paperwork, and more introverted aspects of the business. That could be a killer partnership right there. Everything that needs to get done is covered, and both people are the most comfortable where they are as far as their responsibilities and the day-to-day tasks they perform for the company. In this situation you and your partner’s skills complement each other and fill in the gaps that you each individually leave. A balancing act, that when achieved and done correctly, can mean wonderful things for two aspiring business partners. This can create a sort of synergy that is going to help you both independently thrive, and your business as well! One thing to make sure of though, is that one person is not putting in more work than the other, because this can breed resentment, especially if the pay-out that you both have agreed upon is 50-50. No one wants to be the one doing all the work while only getting paid for half of it. These are the kinds of situations that breed revenge schemes, and have people get the carpet pulled out from underneath them. Don’t fall victim and become another story like this. Make sure you are putting in an equal amount of work, and it is always good to check on your partner every now and then, ask if everything is okay the way it is, if they feel like things are fair and working in their favor as well as yours. It isn’t a hard question to ask, and if it’s something that you might be afraid to ask or are hesitant to, then it’s likely that you already know the answer and it may be time for a change on your part. It may be the other way around, and your partner is the one that needs to increase his or her productivity. If that is the case, then you will need to find an amicable and non-aggressive or confrontational way to address this, even if it had been frustrating you. It will pay off in the long run, especially if they start to increase their work ethic.


A company’s reputation is everything to it. If you have a toxic business partner, they could do or say things that could potentially put your company in a bad light. And if you know a thing or two about business, then you know that perception is everything. The way that a company looks to the public can rise or lower its stocks in less than a day, sometimes even faster. If your reputation is suffering because of the behavior of your partner, you need to cut ties immediately before they do irreparable damage. If your partner is part of something illegal, we would recommend you jump to make these changes even faster, you want no part of any type of criminal activity associated with you or tied to your business. If they haven’t done anything to especially effect the company yet but you can see they are swiftly headed that route, then you need to intervene and have a discussion with them, possibly with other people that have noticed similar behavior as well if you do not think that they will listen to just you. Although, if they will not listen to you alone, this may also be a sign that you have a bad business partner already. Communication and valuing and respecting one another is one of the biggest keys to a successful business partnership and a prospering company and staff.

Time to get rid of them

So, if you are making good money and the cash is flowing in, you may want to consider buying out your business partner. Sure, they may walk away with a big chunk of change, but in the long run it is going to save your business. This is the way you need to think about it. Don’t let your pride get in the way because they are getting away with a fair amount. If you didn’t have a buyout plan in your business partnership or agreement/contract, negotiations may be required, and it might be a good idea for you to retain the services of your lawyer. If your partner doesn’t want to sell, another option would be to propose that they buy YOU out. Your only other option is to file a lawsuit, and that is going to be a long, tiresome, money-sucking process that doesn’t even have a certain outcome to begin with. If it is really your desire, and you have come to the decision that no matter what you need to part with this person, you need to make them your ex-business partner and you need to do it now, then the best option may be to walk away. You may have to be the one that is bought out. You can always start another company is you have developed the capital. Another way to get out of this is if a “royalty deal” was written into the contract. This is put into a lot of contracts where one person was the “mastermind” behind the company or product but wasn’t interested in the day-to-day operations of the facility or store. If someone helped you to create a product or company, but they now have somewhat checked out, lost interest, and no longer are coming around or contacting you as much, then a royalty deal is more of a win-win situation.

If you are early in the process of starting your business, then chopping your connection with a bad business partner could be as easy as walking away and refusing to speak to them again. Sometimes people just don’t get it or understand and the only thing that your left with is to walk away.

 Are you early in the start-up process? If so, how to get rid of a bad business partner could be as simple as just walking away. If there is no money, no sales have been made, no brand has been established, and there is nothing on the market yet, then it could be as simple as that! Things can get stressful pretty fast when two people have decided to work together but one is more invested or is taking things more seriously than the other, especially from day one, from the start. If you know that your partner will run the business down to the ground as sure as the sun rises, then you’re in the perfect position to cut him off right now! Starting a business has always involved at least a small level of risk and always will, so always be putting yourself in the position to learn lessons when you make mistakes so that you are always moving forward with more knowledge. Don’t let your pride or ego get in the way and make you one of these bad business partners we have written about. You want to be a good friend and a good partner, that is always the best way to go.

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