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Ask Dave

A Partnership Doesn't Sail

Bruce's bride-to-be is about to make a huge mistake with her small business.

QUESTION: Bruce in Massachusetts says his fiancée has a small photography business. She is considering a partnership with a college student majoring in business. He doesn't think it is a good idea, but doesn't believe he can prevent her from doing it. Dave says a partnership is always a bad idea.

Dave's ANSWER: She should not do this; it's a bad idea. I'm positive of that. If you think you can't do anything to prevent this, then you have an issue in your upcoming marriage. There is no upside for her on this.

She is looking for some emotional support and some help with business acumen. That does not mean she needs a partner, especially one that just graduated from business school who has no experience. This sounds like two people who definitely don't need to be in business who are about to go into business together. That makes this exponentially bad. Please, please, please don't do this.

If you can't talk her out of it, you need premarital counseling. She is willing to walk into something perpendicular and head-on against what her husband thinks is a good idea. This is a bad way to start a marriage. And by the way, you don't need to walk into something that your wife thinks is a bad idea. It's not a matter of the husband being the boss; that's not what I'm talking about.

What I am saying is that you guys have to learn to listen to each other's instincts and make major decisions together. If you can't do that, you don't need to get married. I'm going to take this one step further; the immaturity around this whole discussion with her is really reeking.

I'm being mean because I'm trying to pierce through this inability on your part to stop this train. You've got to stop this because she's going to create a nightmare for herself, you and the idiot she's going into the business with. She will lose a friend, and sections of her business, and she's going to lose clients, and she's going to create marriage strife. There is nothing good in this discussion.

If the friend wants to come along and help, here is the way to do it without getting into a partnership. If you want to hire someone and let them share in the profits as their compensation package while you own 100% of the business, there is no fault in that. That's a possible way to go at this, but take the partnership discussion off the table. You are going to create a mess.