Are partnerships really made to be broken?

Published 10:10 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

There is a well known saying that partnerships are made to be broken, however there are many examples of successful partnerships in business. 

There are many advantages of a partnership including the following.

• Two heads are better than one.

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• Partners can complement each other.

• Tax savings.

• Partners’ business affairs are private.

• Limited external regulations.

• Combined resources/capital.

There are also some disadvantages. They include:

• Jointly and severally liable for debts.

• Risks of disagreements/friction.

• Liable for actions of each other.

Businesses that are General Partnerships do not have to pay income tax as each partner files on the profits/losses of the business on his/her own personal income tax return. Other choices for a business are sole proprietorships, C Corporation, S Corporation, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships. There are also non-profit corporations. Every situation is different based on the parties involved, mission and goals of the business, type of business involved, etc. 

The entrepreneurial spirit is important in individuals starting a business, regardless of the kind of business established. It is a mindset, an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. Entrepreneurs embrace critical thinking, questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement. It is part of the culture.

Whether you are an owner, manager or employee, being actively involved with agility, not resting on your laurels and tackling challenges will move you forward both individually and holistically as a business. Seeking out new opportunities and taking ownership and pride in your company  will result in success. It involves approaching all types of situations with motivation and empowerment. Encouraging all employees to not only see problems but to find solutions, coming up with new ideas and new directions, will take the company to new heights.

Taking calculated risks and making tough decisions is part of the territory. Making sacrifices is necessary and goes a long way. The voices of senior executives and junior team members all need to be encouraged and nurtured, not criticized. This is crucial to continue the bringing of innovative ideas forward.

Important aspects of any business that bring success include the hiring, training and retention of outstanding employees. In interviews that I have conducted with successful partners the main issue they told me about was the challenges of hiring and maintaining a quality work force. This was also the prevalent answer from sole proprietors and owners of other types of businesses. The employers and employees both should be responsible for maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit in the beginning stages of a business and as the business grows. Employees who think like an owner are the backbone of  a business and set the example of teamwork for new employees. 

With their passion they help businesses of all kinds and sizes to grow and evolve rather than becoming stagnant and stale. This is what sets businesses apart and brings success.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing