Like a Little Pleasure to go With Your Business, Why Not? Who said that you can’t do business with friends? Pretty much everybody! But when done right the old cliché can be proven to be untrue. When following some clear steps, establishing boundaries, and setting up guidelines, a business venture with a friend can not only be successful but enjoyable as well.
Know how to pick ‘em.
Just like with any other person, when deciding whether or not to do business with a friend, you have to choose wisely. Not every friend is interested in being a real client or business partner, some people are just looking to use you for your specialties or talents. It’s critical that you and your friend can truly compliment each other professionally and can flourish together in a business capacity. Be sure that are on the same page when it comes to your business mission and goals, and that you share a clear, mutual vision for the business. Nothing worse than wasting time fighting over these fundamental pieces and losing momentum, money, and most importantly a valued friendship in the process.
Remember it’s All About the MF’n Money
You know they say the best things in life are free but not when it comes to business baby! The main point of a for-profit business is to make money and every chance to do so should be taken advantage of. Just as clear as your total vision for the business is, should so be your sales and growth strategies. Transparency and trust are key here. Making sure that each business partner has equal access to monies, financial records, etc and that you discuss expenses and other money related decisions before they are made will ensure that there are no “secrets” or perceived ill will when it comes to the funds.
Put it on Paper
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s my friend, why do I need to make them sign a contract?” They need to sign a contract because you’re in a business together and it should be taken seriously. Having a written agreement will provide you and your friend a clear understanding of ownership, titles, scope of work and the terms and conditions of your partnership. It should not demean your friendship. If your friend has problem signing the contract that friend should stay your friend and not your business partner.
The 4(not 12) Step Program
Now you’ve decided to go into business with your friend or friends, you’ve discussed roles and responsibilities, compensation, and you’ve got a signed contract. So what’s next? Following these steps can ensure that you maintain a great working relationship with your friend turned business partner.
-Check in on a regular basis. Constant communication is necessary to build a solid partnership and successful business. Send emails, have conference calls, and face to face meetings regularly to ensure the mission and vision of the business is realized.
-Share Personal Goals. Just because you are now in business together doesn’t mean you can’t still be a cheerleader for one another. Discuss not only your goals for your joint venture but your goals for your business and career as a whole.
-Speak up. Whenever you are feeling out of sorts about the direction of any aspect of the business, this is not the time to remain quiet. Not expressing how you really feel will ultimately cause tension in the friendship and the business partnership.
-Meet on Neutral Ground. A Super Bowl party is not a good place to go over the price points of the marketing plan for your upcoming product launch; it’s a place to watch a football game. Knowing when and where to meet will keep business, business and pleasure, pleasure. A working lunch, meeting for coffee, or even at a quiet bar for drinks are all good places to meet with a friend turned business partner that keeps things professional but relaxed at the same time.
-Save the Best for Last. Remember friends (are we friends yet?) The most important thing when doing business with your friend is that you ultimately remain friends. Never allow the work to overshadow the fact that you were friends first and want to be friends after the curtain call. Set aside some time together to just be friends. Go out, have a great time without discussing business, and remember why you became friends in the first place.
Whatever you do, don’t listen to the naysayers who say NEVER MIX BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE because when it comes to doing business with friends if you have the right ingredients you can mix up a tasty cocktail of success.