Are you considering starting a business with a friend? Great! Finding a business partner to work with on a new venture can be difficult whether you are friends or not. Often time’s business relationships with a friend don’t work out for a multitude of reasons as is evident from Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook debacle, and Katheryn Menshew, The Muse founder, and her PYP mishap. Entrepreneurial endeavors involve a lot of risk. Financially, professionally, mentally and emotionally there are several aspects to consider when starting a business with a friend. Over there years I have learned a thing or two about partnering with friends so I have devised a list of considerations should you decide to take the plunge.
Work/Business Ethics – Ones work ethic can make or break any business so it’s wise to have a good grasp of it before hand. Discussing how your partner handles business or determining how you each want to handle business beforehand will save you grief later. But, if you’re partner tends be lax with things or not pay much attention to detail you might want to be cognizant of that if you will be sharing a working relationship together.
Goals – Having a set of clearly defined goals for your business will allow your business to have focus. It will also mean that you and your business partner can avoid asking yourselves “what are we working toward?”. Remember goals do not have to be cumbersome. They can start out as small as, build a website, or set up necessary business accounts, and grow into large goals like; become a multimillion-dollar company.
Roles/Responsibilities – Defining each other’s roles and responsibilities early on is crucial when starting a business with a friend. You do not want a duplicative effort but you also want each person to feel that they are contributing to the business equally. If you and your partner aren’t sure what your strengths are, switch roles down the line so you both have a chance to discover your likes and dislikes, while knowing the ins and outs of the business fully.
Transparency – Always be clear about the actions you would like to take or are taking when it comes to the business. No one likes being blindsided by decisions made without their input. Always come to the table ready to discuss your ideas in addition to actions that you would like to take. Also, ensure that you each have complete visibility into all business related items i.e. financials, processes, legal, correspondence, partnerships etc.
Friendship – Remember that you were friends first. When you go into business with a friend, you will find that you have more disagreements as business partners, than you ever did as friends. Working on a business venture with a friends means discussing things at length which can really make you forget that you are working with your friend. So, find time to not talk about your business and make sure you are still talking about everything you discussed pre-business. Don’t make every conversation about your business because it can be draining, and the last thing you want your business to do is break up the friendship you had.