I have sold many businesses to buyers who were family or friends, and I have sold just as many when the reason for selling was "dispute between partners." Owning a business is extremely time consuming, and so it helps to have someone there when you are not who you can trust. Internal theft is a major problem in many business operations, and so just having a "manager" on site is not enough to deter theft. There are some things anyone who is interesting in becoming business partners should consider.
1. Identify Roles
I suggest anyone who wants to become partners to analyze and decide which roles each person will do. If you are buying a restaurant decide what person will be responsible for bookkeeping, working in the kitchen, handling staff issues, etc. Many times, people will by a business and become frustrated, because one person feels they are there all the time while the other person comes in infrequently.
2. Define Your Goals
Identify what your ultimate endgame is. Are you buying a business that you will eventually sell in 2-3 years or are you planning to expand in the future? It's important to ask yourself what your plans are and what you will do if one of the partners decides they want to leave. I have seen people become successful by buying a business and working it together and then eventually opening up another location that one of the partners runs.
3. Visit An Attorney
Possibly visit an attorney and have them draft up a business partnership agreement. Is one person bringing in more of the money, while another will be sweat equity? It's important to decide if it s going to be a 50/50 or 60/40 split or another percentage of the business' net profit.
4. Separation of Private and Personal Lives
If you are a husband and wife buying a business make sure that you make it a point to separate your business with your marriage. On a personal level, I have seen many people who lose their personal relationships because they become consumed with the business and ultimately through conflict both their business and relationship suffer.