Why and When to End a Community-Business Partnership

Knowing when exactly to end a partnership can sometimes be as challenging as elements of the partnership itself.

It can be tempting to call a halt to a partnership if it seems to be in trouble or not achieving anything.

While those problems are causes for concern, most of the time they can be addressed by taking heed of the early warning signs and having the two partners work together to do something to address the causes of the problems.

Ending a partnership that may be experiencing some problems but is still basically healthy, means that all the time, effort, resources and planning put into its creation have been wasted.

It also means both partners and the community have not experienced the full benefits of partnership as they could have.

Circumstances to End a Well-Performing Partnership

There are three sets of circumstances that could see both partners decide to end what has generally been a well-performing partnership arrangement.

  • Your partnership has achieved its goals.
    • If your partnership has achieved what it set out to do for the business and community group involved, as well as for the community itself, then it may have reached the end of its effectiveness and can be disbanded.
    • When ending such a partnership, ensure you celebrate your achievements and review what you have accomplished. Also keep in mind opportunities to join other community business partnerships in the future. This may also be the end merely of the more formal partnership, not of the relationship.
  • Your partnership has reached the end of its time limit or the time period it was planned to be in force for.
    • If both parties agreed to be involved in a partnership for a certain period of time -six months, for example, or a year, or two years - then when those periods end, the agreement will terminate.
    • If that is the case, but both partners nonetheless wish to continue their partnership work beyond those dates, then a new agreement will need to be negotiated. Before that, however, it is probably a good idea for both parties not only to review the partnership to this point, but to take some time to acknowledge what has already been achieved.
  • Your stated partnership aims do not fit into your partnership's current structure.
    • If both parties agree that the partnership's current structure will not allow them to achieve their aims, then the partnership should be dissolved and then re-focussed in another way.
    • Your partnership may be functioning perfectly well, but might hit an unforseen problem or issue that can only be overcome by changing the partnership's structure.
    • Both parties need to agree to the change in structure, and should work together to redevelop their partnership so it can overcome the obstacle and achieve the goals it set out to achieve.
When ending a partnership in one of these three situations, both business and community groups should remember to celebrate what they have achieved and review the partnership they are ending - and keep an eye out for community business partnership opportunities in the future.

It should also be remembered that a well-planned community business partnership should have seen both partners develop and agree on an exit strategy as they assembled the arrangement. 
A good exit strategy can make it easier to organise and co-ordinate the end of a partnership.