If you and your friend are both entrepreneurs (or aspiring entrepreneurs), brainstorming new business ideas are probably a standard issue. And when you hit upon a really good business idea, you’ll want to take that entrepreneurial spirit off your friend’s living room couch and into the boardroom. That could be a great decision! Be aware, though, that there’s a right way to go about starting a business with a friend—and a not-so-right way, too.
But starting a business with a friend means that your relationship changes. During working hours, you’ll need to interact with each other a little more formally than you would if you were just hanging at home, especially if you’re co-helming a team of employees.
You’ll also need to make sure that your close personal connection doesn’t result in sloppy business practices. Emotions can run high when you’re going into a business with a friend—or anyone for that matter—but you also need to keep those emotions in check to run your business professionally.
Do communicate often
You probably know from your personal relationships that open communication is crucial. The same principle applies to business partnerships.
But if you go into business with a friend, it can be easy to take that principle for granted: You know each other inside and out. It’s fine to go about your business under the assumption that you’re on the same page. Right?
The truth is, silence breeds confusion. And in a business setting, that confusion can result in devastating losses.
Even though you innately trust your friends, you still need to communicate clearly about everything. Especially difficult subjects.
Do establish clear roles from the beginning
This tip follows naturally from the first: Clearly define your job titles and responsibilities at the outset of your venture. It’ll ensure that your organization runs smoothly, and it minimizes the risk of confusion, and even power struggles, as your business scales.
Adopt An “Opposites Attract” Mentality
While it’s imperative that the two of you share a common vision (more on that later), working with someone who thinks differently than you can be inherently beneficial. “Emily and I worked together prior to starting La Detresse,” says Hadid. “We were both stylists and personal shoppers. I saw how easily Emily achieved the side of the business that I wasn’t as apt at doing. She was the business end, where I just wanted to design clothing.”
All in all, you must (must, must) pick a partner who you trust: personally, financially, ethically, and beyond. In fact, Bakalar says this is one of the major reasons that friend or family-run businesses can prosper. “It’s a huge benefit to work with someone you can be totally honest with, and still trust that the relationship won’t be impeded,”