A business partnership isn’t all business. When two people start a company together, they often were friends already, and they see that bond strengthened by the hard work they put into building it up.

So when things go south, it can be traumatizing.

In fact, the emotional stages of the breakup of a business — what people in my line of work sometimes call a business divorce — are strikingly similar to that of a marital divorce.

Just as Covid-19 has put a financial and emotional strain on marriages, it has also strained business partners struggling to work through the pandemic. In some cases, the pandemic is also making pre-existing issues harder to avoid.

Many business owners say that they knew they had issues in their business partnership arrangement before Covid-19 and their problems only worsened in the current climate.

A business divorce is by far the most traumatic event that a business owner will experience. The foundation of a business partnership is usually a familial relationship or a very good friendship. Just as employers tend to hire people they’d like themselves, people tend to go into business with people they have strong relationships and connections with.

Business divorces typically evoke the same feelings of stress, resentment, doubt, blame, betrayal, guilt, fear, and other emotionally fueled reactions seen in a typical divorce.

In fact, they go through somewhat predictable stages of grief.

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