Business lessons from the demise of TomKat

Business break-up

What business lessons could we learn from the demise of TomKat – aka Hollywood couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes?

What happens to a business when a family relationship sours? A couple breaks up? Friends fall out?

Each of these scenarios could leave you in a potentially similar situation to what the world press is predicting for the former power couple – possibly surprised, upset and in a fight over assets.

If you own a business with anybody else, have you got adequate protection if something goes wrong?

Most people don’t start relationships with the end in mind but when it comes to business, the best approach is not to make it personal.

Take for example Sarah and Karen – they were best friends since teenagers, opened a small cafe 10 years ago and their business, family and personal lives were intertwined. They shared babysitters, holidays and a love of coffee.

Sarah started studying, her work started to slip – as did her interest in the business – and it no longer felt like a partnership for Karen who felt she doing the lion share.

Karen confronted Sarah, asking for a greater financial reward for the extra load she was carrying. Sarah said no. They had a fight and their friendship ended in minutes.

They went from sharing everything and talking daily to only communicating when it had to do with the business over the next year while they waited for the business to sell.

It’s a reminder to always get the best professional advice possible, ensure you do due diligence and make sure that all possible scenarios are thought out, documented and signed by all parties. Risks and rewards need to be agreed and acknowledged upfront as do appropriate exit strategies.

No matter how well-meaning our intentions are, or how sweet our honeymoon period, circumstances can change. If you go into your endeavours with your eyes wide open, then hopefully if you need to exit unexpectedly, it doesn’t have to be front page news.