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Left in the Lurch?

How one company moved past a partner's sudden departure

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Aaron Keller and his business partner Brian Aducci were workinghard to grow and establish Capsule, the marketing and design firmthey founded in 1999 with a third partner. But when their partnerleft 18 months into startup, the pair had to scramble to keep theirbusiness intact. Luckily, they had a board of advisors to help themnavigate these murky waters. "It happened reallyquickly--basically, over a weekend," remembers Keller."And certain employees and clients were recruited away, so wewent into high-action mode. We created a war room and got to workon saving every client and every employee we could."

Disaster-type triage is exactly what experts suggest setting upto deal with this situation. "When a partner leaves,you've got to first sit down and realize what the extent of thedamage is," says Lea A. Strickland, founder, president and CEOof FOCUS Resources, a business consulting firm specializing inentrepreneurial issues and strategy in Cary, North Carolina. One ofyour first tasks is eliminating that person's access to bankaccounts, your physical premises and company assets, includingspecialty equipment--an exiting partner with malicious intentionscould damage these critical business elements.

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