The idea of going into business with a close friend is enticing. You obviously get along socially, so what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, the answer is plenty.
To rule out a business partnership solely on the basis of friendship is foolhardy. But it is equally true that going into a business partnership because of friendship is dangerous for your business and your friendship.
It is one thing to be friends and quite another to be friends in business. The key to going into a business partnership is trust.
Trust – it is a little word but it carries a massive punch. Trusting someone not to steal the change out of the till is easy. Trusting someone to make the decisions that you will agree with in a business sense is another matter entirely. Is there enough trust to have full and frank discussions about business operations without bruising egos or hurting feelings?
Where there is money, livelihoods and futures at stake, trust s vital, but it cannot be misplaced.
Who is your friend really? How do they treat others? Are they reliable and fair in their dealings? Do they fly off the handle on hot button issues like political subjects? How do they deal with people they don’t like?
Be honest in your assessment. It’s vital that you understand exactly who it is that you’re going into business with for the sake of your friendship as well as your business. To this end, it is valuable to sit down and thrash everything out before committing to anything. In this respect you need to be totally honest. You can’t afford to smooth over any uneasiness in the hope of not hurting your friend’s feelings.
Communication is everything and how you communicate with your partner will go a long way to determining how cohesive your partnership will be. People don’t always communicate in the same way and often what you see as normal may be considered rude and aggressive by someone else. Email and text communications are cases in point. You need to set ground rules from the beginning so that you both have a clear understanding of how and when you will communicate over vital issues.
Once you’ve got trust and communication issues sorted you really need to see if your skill sets complement each other. Some people are good with customers, some are good with numbers. Some people are very creative big picture people; others are nuts and bolts people who like to get stuck in to detail. What you want here is a different skill set – so that you can maximise your potential. Same skill sets leave big holes to fill and more than likely arguments over the ways of doing things rather than focusing on delivering output.
Getting these issues sorted prior to going into business with your friend will go a long way to ensuring that your business partnership is successful while maintaining your friendship.
Steve Makris at Business Help Now has seen it all when it comes to business partnerships and he knows how vital it is to get your partnership settings right. He has helped many business owners negotiate business partnerships and helped them through the sometimes painful process of exiting business partnerships. He has seen the pain, heartache, joy and triumphs of people working in business partnerships and can help you identify a good business partnership fit. He is currently offering an introductory 45 minute consultation to help you identify exactly what you can do to improve your existing business or to establish whether that business concept that you’re interested in is right for you.