I have a partner for our small business and over the past few months he has been putting in less and less time in the business. Its a small business we both operate as mail order. I handle the internet and marketing side where he takes care of the relationships with our suppliers. Those relationships have begun to suffer and I find myself taking the lion's share of the work.
Every month we split our income 50/50 but incomes are down a lot over the last 2 years.
We have been partners for around 4 years, and were friends before this.
First, have the difficult conversation of asking if your partner is still interested in the business or not. If so, what is the issue? Is the partner's abilities stretched? Are there roadblocks in the business or outside? Differences of priorities/opinions? Are you in the one who is in the wrong and are under-evaluating your partner? This is a conversation you need to have first, in that you must clearly define the problem.
If that goes generally well, and the partner is still invested in the business, the solution is one of better managing the assignment of responsibility, accountability and measurement/feedback. Find some planning software, list what things have to be done, establish larger goals and smaller tasks, track time on tasks, and evaluate each when complete. Base split on that, not on an arbitrary number not tied to performance.
ADDED: Before having that "difficult conversation", prepare, prepare, prepare. What may surface when you start trying to "lance that boil" can surprise you. Don't assume the standard lazy-partner thing, it could be a personal problem that you don't expect and don't have the emotional tools to deal with.
A simple fix to this problem is to value the work that you guys each put in as salaries. You should have probably done this from the beginning but it is not too late.
You both own 50% of the company. That is fair, what is not fair is that you put in all the work while he lags.
What you could do is agree on a scale where each of you get paid for your efforts.
YOu could do this hourly or per task.
So you can tell your partner that work on the website is worth $20 per hour, while marketing work is worth $25 per hour, $15 for customer service and $22.50 for building relationships with vendors. Once you have all these values assigned (my examples will be different than your own business), then you divide up weekly tasks.
If this week you need to spend 10 hours on the site, 3 on marketing and 15 more on vendor relationships you bill your own company, as an employee accordingly:
So you bill:
10 x $20.0 = $200
03 x $25.0 = $75
15 x $22.5 = $337.50
Total = $612.50
The 612.50 becomes a business expense, and whatever is left over you guys still share 50/50. This way you are getting some value for the extra work you put in. Or if he decides to put in tons of work it is valued.
You want to make these rates equal to what someone else could do the work for.
Maybe a time will come when you only use employees or contracts to do the actual day to day work while you both share the 50/50 income.