Friends are an essential part of our lives. They’re the people who help us overcome hardships and achieve our goals during childhood, youth, and adulthood. But can you start a business with a friend and be successful? We all know how friendships work. You get used to and take liberties with each other. There’s almost no end to the number of times you’ll “let it slide” when your friend makes a mistake.
Is any of that good for business? As you may know, starting a business requires you to be organized, creative, and focused. You need to know all the risks and be prepared to make some sacrifices along the way. Your potential customers need you to offer a better product or service than your competitors.
So, you may be wondering whether your friend can really be a good business partner. The truth is, it can either work or not. If you want to successfully start a business with a friend, here are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
1. Assess each other’s skills and be honest
It could be that your friend said they’re skilled in something. And maybe you saw them do the thing and liked it. But have you thought about what other people think? It’s easy to oversee faults in your friend’s work because of the connection you have. You want to be loyal to them. And so, you might ignore any flaws you spot hoping they’ll do better next time.
But it can be quite hard to do better when you don’t know the areas to improve on. So, it’s best to be straightforward with your friends when assessing their skills. You could even involve a third party to help judge your competency and compatibility as business partners.
2. Clearly understand each other’s roles
It can be quite stressful when either of you has to do a bunch of things for the business. The best approach is when each one has been assigned specific roles. It’s good to base the responsibilities on your strengths and skills. And that’s why you need a friend with different but essential skills when starting a specific business.
When you’ve established who will be doing what, leave them to it. Don’t keep observing and trying to improve what your business partner does. That’s unless they really need your help. You can then update each other of your progress later on. You could use the necessary collaboration and information-sharing tools for this purpose or catch up from time to time.
3. Record everything
Business can have conflicts related to investments, roles, and other things. If you don’t put it in writing, it becomes hard to know who is right. It could be that one of you invested more money than the other. Or, one of you has a superior role in decision making. When either of you makes a mistake, you can easily go back to the records and resolve the issue in no time.
Aside from who does what or invested which amount of money, you need an actual business plan written. It includes your vision of where you want your business to be in a particular number of years plus the steps to get there. It’s a good idea to involve a lawyer who specializes in business matters. They’ll help you prepare the required documents to successfully run a business as partners.
4. Don’t bring play into work
It isn’t bad to have a bit of fun while at work. In fact, being happy is necessary for enhanced productivity. But the idea is not to overdo it. You could establish a protocol where certain things can’t be done at work. If anyone breaks the rules, they have to undergo some sort of workplace punishment. This way there’ll be less instances of being late, absenteeism, low-quality work, and other undesirable behaviors.
Better yet, you could have a reward strategy where someone gets monetary or other rewards for their good work. This kind of motivation works well most of the time. You and your friend/business partner will work hard to get such benefits.
5. Don’t let business affect your friendship
While we’ve been exploring what you need to do to have a successful business with a friend, it’s essential to maintain your friendship. Don’t be too focused on business that you barely have time to be there for each other.
You need hours or days off to share personal matters that you’ve been avoiding because it was business time. Joke, laugh, and do anything else you used to engage in as friends.
And because the failure of a business isn’t uncommon, you’ll still have your friendship intact in case it happens. You could even start a new business without worries while fixing the missteps you previously made.
It’s possible to start a successful business with your friend as a partner. Many brands, big and small, have done it. You can do it too if you follow the best practices of having a friend for a business partner. In short, separate friendship from business but don’t forget to water the former too.