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Online Tapestry business

Money and business is a great way to loose friends

One business was referred to us through our solicitors. Our point of contact was a lovely lady with great business ideas bursting from every pore that had partnered up with someone with Internet technical knowledge. Between the two of them, a successful Internet business selling tapestries to the US was born.

All was well until their friendship crumbled closely followed by the business relationship. Technical jobs took longer to complete and enthusiasm for the general concept for working together eroded daily. This finally resulted in a demand from the technical partner for 150,000 to be bought out, which at the time of trading was well over 10 years trading profits. Unless this was paid, the technical partner threatened to bring the site down permanently which could have involving making the customer database unavailable. This would mean having to start again completely with hindsight being the only salvageable benefit. With no contractul agreement, this business could be tied up in the courts for far too long.

The technical partner had access to the server the website was hosted on and we never really found out who truly owned and controlled server access. In summary it was a legal nightmare and while the fighting was happening, orders were not being filled and the sites reputation was being severely damaged.

When you have a good business relationship, details such as who is going to spend the 10 on buying the domain name for 2 years is usually ALWAYS seen as no cause for an executive meeting.

BIG MASSIVE HUGE GARGANTUAN MISTAKE!!!!!!

If you are the business brains, planter of the original Internet business seed, driving force or whatever you want to call yourself, make sure you own and control everything that can stop you conducting business. Stop what you are doing NOW and look at what your business needs to operate and how much of that a bitter partner or employee could maliciously interfere with.

Consider the following:
  • Domain name ownership
  • Hosting account holder especially usernames and passwords for FTP access and email accounts
  • If you ship parcels, who is the account registered with at your parcel carrier Who controls your customer database? Is it backed up along with your whole website?
  • Who has the online payment account details?
  • Who pays the bills at the website services company? It is possible they might side with your bitter partner and leave you out.
  • Who has the account at your suppliers?
The lesson
 
If your partnership is based on a friendly relationship and not a contractual one, then plan for the friendship to fail as money disputes are a great friendship killer. Worst case scenario may not happen but if it does the damage to your Internet business is greatly reduced.

This is no substitute for qualified legal advice; this is only a reflection of our experience of Internet Business.
 
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Online tapestry business that was based on being friends