Starting a business with a friend can either bring success beyond the wildest dreams of both of you or a nightmare that breaks up the friendship to the point you never speak to each other again. For most people, the success of this arrangement falls somewhere between these two extremes. Before either of you forges ahead with forming a business partnership, we encourage you to carefully consider the questions we outline below.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going into Business with a Friend
Just because you have a wonderful relationship with someone as a friend doesn’t mean they will make a good business partner. Here are some questions to seriously consider before approaching your friend with the idea, or before responding, if your friend approaches you first.
How well does this person communicate? Do you think he or she has what it takes to handle the inevitable business conflicts with you, customers, employees, and suppliers with detached professionalism?
- Do you and your friend agree on the vision and mission of a potential business?
- What is the worst-case scenario you can think of going into business together?
- Have you and your friend discussed the type of business culture the two of you would like to create?
- Do you trust your friend at a deep level to make the best decisions for the business even if a decision isn’t the best one for him or her personally? Do you feel confident in your friend’s skills to run a business?
- Is there any possibility this business partnership could damage or even destroy your friendship? How would you cope if that happened?
If you feel confident in your responses to these questions, you’re ready to move onto the preliminary steps of forming a business partnership.
Assign Roles and Duties as Early as Possible
Before the business launches, it’s a good idea to make sure that you both know who is going to do what. We recommend sitting down together to formally assign each person a role and several duties for the first several months of business operation.
However, it’s equally important to keep in mind that duties and roles can fluctuate greatly as the business grows. That means each of you needs to maintain the flexibility to do what’s best for your new company. Cross-training is also a good idea in case one partner is absent one day or business is booming and he or she needs help from the other partner and employees.
Schedule Meetings Regularly and Keep Lines of Communication Open
The way you talk as business partners may be nothing like the way you talk as friends. Never assume that communication will take care of itself, as this is a sure recipe for burnout and misunderstandings. We recommend scheduling at least weekly meetings with each other and monthly meetings with staff to provide the opportunity to ask questions and understand strategy.
Need additional assistance in starting a business with a friend? Schedule a consultation with Business Partner Alliance today.