When Friendship and Business Collide

How do you deal with it when you tell a friend that you have a business idea and they say that they would like to be involved?

It is all too easy to get carried away with the idea of working with someone you know, someone you have fun with and someone you may turn to when you are feeling sad or down.  But that doesn’t mean that they will be someone you should plan on working with.  In fact, based on my experience, sometimes they are the very last people you should choose to work with, particularly if they have no experience of business, working for themselves, or worse still, if you know they can be unreliable.

It might seem like a fun idea to begin with, chatting over a glass of wine or a cup of tea as you plan what will happen, how it will work and, of course how you will spend all that money.  But have you stopped to think, or better still, asked them exactly what it is they can bring to the plan?

Enthusiasm is all very well, but it is not enough.  Do they have any knowledge of the area you plan to work in?  Are they willing and able to invest money if that is required?  Does their future plan match yours?

How compatible would you be if you worked together?  What if you are proactive and they are more reactive?  What if you have a clear end goal, but they can’t see past the next few months?  What if you are driven and determined, and they are more laid back and see what happens?

It has been my experience that working with friends is often a very bad idea, when you choose the wrong one that is, or when your friendship isn’t as close or equally balanced as you may think.

I have worked with people who were friends but who were unable to see the bigger picture, who, despite me being really clear that I did not want a business partnership with them, became resentful when they weren’t given the recognition they thought they deserved despite me asking exactly what they wanted from the role and how they saw they role progressing.

I’ve experienced bullying from someone who was angry that their invoice wasn’t paid when they thought it should have been, despite me clearly putting in writing the deadline for submitting invoices and the payment dates.  When I pointed this out and showed them when their invoice had been posted, proving it could not have reached me by the deadline, they simply claimed they hadn’t thought about this but never apologised for their behaviour.   I lost trust in this person, and it didn’t take long for both the work relationship and friendship to end.

The point here is that not everyone is the right fit for your business, not everyone has the same drive as you and not everyone should cross that line between friendship and business. 

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