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My girlfriend wants 50% of my business


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Old 19th February 2019, 7:18 PM   #1
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Unhappy My girlfriend wants 50% of my business

Both My girlfriend and I are artists. I have been an artist for over 13 years, I have a full-time job as a paralegal, on the side I paint, am the curator of a art gallery, sell my work, and have made quite a name for myself locally. My dream has always been to quit my fulltime job and start up my own art gallery and live life as an artist.

I recently got into a relationship 1.5 years ago. She is also an artist but not as well known as I am but very talented. I want to start up a gallery now that I came into some money. I have shared the idea with my girlfriend and she seemed excited about it. I have a full-time job and she is a full-time artist. Financially I pay all the bills at home because she does not work, but she will help out here and there whenever she can. I have purchased approximately $2,000 worth of furniture and supplies for the business and she has chipped in approximately $300 on her end to buy things for the gallery as well.

I will be coming into some retirement money and will be using it all to purchase the building, construction etc. and she will be helping with her ideas and physical efforts around the gallery. Just recently we got into an argument because she brought up the fact that so wanted to be a 50% partner (on paper) in the business because she feels that she will be putting her heart, soul, efforts and time into the business. Is it fair for her to ask for that? And is it wrong or selfish of me to not want to do that? I feel that we both will be benefiting off of the business, especially since she does not work and continue to be a full-time artist through the gallery. But I feel I have more to lose if for any reason we were to break up.

She is making me feel guilty because she is now saying that I do not trust her and that she will be making a sacrifice living in the gallery with me until the business gets on its feet. I don't feel that I need a business partner but at the same time I do want her help. What should I do?

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Old 19th February 2019, 7:24 PM   #2
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It's unreasonable of her to expect to be a 50% partner if she's not contributing 50% of the financial stake. Sure, her efforts and time are valuable, but the cold hard fact is they doesn't merit equal equity partnership.

You are risking your money (retirement funds no less). She's risking her time and energy. If she can't see the difference then maybe you shouldn't be considering her as a business partner at all.
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Old 19th February 2019, 7:29 PM   #3
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Mixing business & pleasure is a recipe for failing at both.

If she is not going to be an owner in the business, is there a position you are willing to offer her say for a salary? if she is to become a partner, you have to treat this solely like an arm's length business transaction. . . you both get separate lawyers & hammer out a business plan. As a paralegal you should know the value of a well drafted agreement.

Don't make any business decisions because you "love each other" or because somebody will bring sweat equity to the table. That is too hard to quantify.
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Old 19th February 2019, 7:33 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Finding my way View Post
they doesn't
Cripes. Substitute that with either "they don't" or "that doesn't".
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Old 19th February 2019, 7:44 PM   #5
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She isnít your wife. Think long and hard about having a business together.
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Old 19th February 2019, 8:20 PM   #6
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I generally don't believe in mixing business with your personal life. Complicates things far too much at both ends IMO.


But if you do insist on going forward with this, I believe you do need to give her some equity in your business - not 50%, but some. You should not be expecting her to devote a significant amount of her time working for you without any payoff. Paying her a salary for help could be an alternative option, but that does sound a bit awkward when she's your girlfriend. Which again brings us to the point in my last paragraph...
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Old 19th February 2019, 8:40 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JPerez2781 View Post
Just recently we got into an argument because she brought up the fact that so wanted to be a 50% partner (on paper) in the business because she feels that she will be putting her heart, soul, efforts and time into the business. Is it fair for her to ask for that?
Very few relationships are forever, what happens when you break-up with your "50% partner"? I'd give her free exhibit space and all her money back. Love and commerce are both complicated enough as is...

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Old 19th February 2019, 9:46 PM   #8
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For people who are NOT married business partnerships are bought into..

If she only brings 10% to the table then 10% is what she buys into, the sweat equity is something both of you should bring equally and profits should be split or paychecks cut equally, ownership is always different than a paychecks
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Old 20th February 2019, 12:41 AM   #9
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I can sympathize with her, but no way Jose...

I passed up several opportunities to take on partners in business ventures and I am glad I did...

Make sure she is properly compensated for her efforts, but don't take her on as a partner...It can and usually will get ugly....

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Old 20th February 2019, 7:05 AM   #10
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The problem is that the OP WANTS her help, i.e. he wants her to put in the work to get the business off the ground without any compensation.



Quote:
I don't feel that I need a business partner but at the same time I do want her help.
It feels to me like he's trying to have his cake and eat it too, honestly.


I personally think that the right thing for him to do, if he doesn't want to give her any equity, would be to actually PAY someone to do the work instead of letting her do it for free. And backpay her for the free work that's already been done, and return her $300.
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Old 20th February 2019, 7:10 AM   #11
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I didn't read it that he didn't want to compensate her, but that he doesn't want to give her 50% ownership for her non-financial contributions.
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Old 20th February 2019, 7:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Finding my way View Post
I didn't read it that he didn't want to compensate her, but that he doesn't want to give her 50% ownership for her non-financial contributions.

He didn't mention intending to pay her at all, and he described her work as "help".


If he actually intended to pay her a salary, that's fine.
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Old 20th February 2019, 7:37 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Elswyth View Post
It feels to me like he's trying to have his cake and eat it too, honestly.

I personally think that the right thing for him to do, if he doesn't want to give her any equity, would be to actually PAY someone to do the work instead of letting her do it for free. And backpay her for the free work that's already been done, and return her $300.
While it's a gray area, this is technically compensation too.
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Originally Posted by JPerez2781 View Post
Financially I pay all the bills at home because she does not work, but she will help out here and there whenever she can.

Personally, I think you should do the math and offer her a percentage ownership that's reasonable for her investment. If you don't want to go that route, offer her a salary and have her pay her share of the bills from it.
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Old 20th February 2019, 7:40 AM   #14
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I always thought going 50/50 in a business venture was a bad idea to begin with. Someone should be the ultimate decision maker.
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Old 20th February 2019, 7:56 AM   #15
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No way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPerez2781 View Post
I have a full-time job and she is a full-time artist. Financially I pay all the bills at home because she does not work, but she will help out here and there whenever she can. I have purchased approximately $2,000 worth of furniture and supplies for the business and she has chipped in approximately $300 on her end to buy things for the gallery as well.
Start putting her extra money toward the household bills, not toward the gallery. She's got a pretty good deal right now, being able to be a full time artist while you support her financially. What did she do 1.5 years ago to support herself before you came along? Have you asked her if she thinks it's fair that you have to support her while she lives her dream of being a full time artist?

Quote:
I will be coming into some retirement money and will be using it all to purchase the building, construction etc. and she will be helping with her ideas and physical efforts around the gallery.
My suggestion is that you pay her hourly for her time when she helps around the new gallery. Whatever is a fair wage for that type of work.

Quote:
Just recently we got into an argument because she brought up the fact that so wanted to be a 50% partner (on paper) in the business because she feels that she will be putting her heart, soul, efforts and time into the business. Is it fair for her to ask for that? And is it wrong or selfish of me to not want to do that?
I don't think you are wrong at all to not want to do that. You're very right that she is giving up nothing. As it is, she gets to be a full time artist and doesn't have to worry about supporting herself. So, she throws in a few hundred here and there, provides her "ideas," and thinks she deserves 50% of your business? No way. Pay her whatever a fair wage is in the industry for her time around the gallery and call it a day.

Quote:
I feel that we both will be benefiting off of the business, especially since she does not work and continue to be a full-time artist through the gallery. But I feel I have more to lose if for any reason we were to break up.
You lose everything; she loses nothing and still gets to be a full time artist. Fair? No.

Quote:
She is making me feel guilty because she is now saying that I do not trust her and that she will be making a sacrifice living in the gallery with me until the business gets on its feet. I don't feel that I need a business partner but at the same time I do want her help. What should I do?
If she feels she's making an unfair sacrifice, then she can go live somewhere else or work somewhere else. I really think you need to be firm on this. Pay her for her help, but do not give her an ownership interest in the business.
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