Every small business needs to address the possibility of future shareholder or owner disputes. These concepts apply to every business structure, including partnerships, limited liability companies ans corporations.
Shareholder disputes are time-consuming, expensive and counter-productive. Shareholders disputes are easy to avoid, if you agree on basic principles before shareholders come together as business partners. The basic principles include-
1. Who does what jobs.
2. Who gets paid what and when. (I include a provision to cover taxes.)
3. What happens if someone stops working or completing their job duties.
4. What happens if there is a buy-sell “triggering event” such as death, divorce, dissolution of the entity, disability, etc.
5. How elections are held to select company leaders.
The key to solving shareholder disputes is to AVOID them in the first place through buy-sell agreements, operating agreement and similar documents. Do NOT form your business partnership without addressing these issues IN WRITING AT THE START.
One final thought. . . pick your partners well. I have myself had to endure difficult and unreasonable business partners. So, trust me when I urge you to be cautious in selecting your partners. Assume each partner will be unreasonable at some point.
And get it in writing at the start!