Planning for the end of a partnership

Today I facilitated a meeting between two dentists who are considering a business partnership.

My opening comment was:

“Have you agreed what the actions will be in the event of the 3D’s?”

Of course, that produced a couple of quizzical looks and a request for an explanation.

So what are the 3D’s?




It’s all well and good getting excited about the business opportunity – and I’m not trying to be cynical BUT

I have witnessed the wars that can occur when the 3D’s are not addressed – lawyers get rich.

Death – do you really want to be in business with your deceased partners, ex-wife’s next husband?

Disability – I recall many years ago, two happy fellows in business together, until one of them fell off a cliff whilst fell walking and became a paraplegic. All well and good until the “survivor” ended up in business with an embittered wife whose glamorous lifestyle had become that of a full-time carer.

Differences – you are not “the same”. You are simple treading the same pathway for a short while – but inexorably, the differences between you will manifest themselves. You WILL drift apart.


I’m not in favour of complex legal drafts.

I am in favour of a simple exchange of letters that witnesses the steps to be taken if, God forbid, any of the 3D’s occur.

When that’s done – we can get on with the exciting bit.

Which is what we did.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.