John Brown and Rebecca Schramm were partners in romance and business until their personal love died in a nasty breakup. Now, both refuse to give up their status in the company. Without a solid partnership plan or agreement in place, their constant fighting is killing the business.
"You always hear the advice that getting into a business partnership is like getting into a marriage, and that's because it is," said Peri Pakroo, a business author and consultant who specializes in advising entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Brown and Schramm bought West End Coffee, a regional roasting plant in Greenville, South Carolina, in 2012. A year later they split romantically, and a war between them ensued.
"The co-owners are living proof that you should never mix business with pleasure," said Marcus Lemonis of CNBC's "The Profit," who spent time at the company to determine if he'd invest in it.
The company generated $840,000 last year for $40,000 in profits. But this year the business is trending downward. West End's product is great and has high margins, but the owners are too busy fighting to sell coffee and make money, Lemonis said.
Pakroo suggests partners who are actively running a business follow these guidelines to survive and avoid major conflicts.