Til Something-or-Other Do Us Part: Guidelines for Happier Business Mergers, Acquisitions, and Roll-Ups

February 2004
by Linda Ligon

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I’ve been told by everyone from my attorney to my friends to a former partner that a business partnership is very, very much like a marriage. Well, I’ve been married to the same man for 40 years, which makes me both very experienced, and very inexperienced–experienced in making the kinds of efforts and compromises that sustain a relationship, but inexperienced in the range of relationship dynamics that can come to bear when two people or two entities merge business interests. I’ve also been in and out of a couple of pretty intense business partnerships, and I can tell you that the comparison to marriage as I know it is limited.

While many of us go into a marriage on a wave of hopes, dreams, emotions, and hormones, most of us at least try to enter into business partnerships a bit more pragmatically. The potential partner has something we need: experience, money, skills, connections, properties that will make our business stronger. These are all measurable. You can, and should, take a careful inventory of the assets and attributes of a potential partner, match them to your own attributes and needs, and come up with an index of suitability. (Of course, you could do this before a marriage, too.)

You can hire professionals to conduct the business equivalent of premarital counseling, to identify and work through differences of philosophy and expectations. And you can (and should) hire excellent legal counsel to craft the business equivalent of a…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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