Starting your own business is no easy task, so having the right partner by your side is extremely important. Well-known companies like Ben & Jerry’s and Airbnb began with friends who had the same vision for their business, so why not turn friendship into entrepreneurship?
Before taking the leap, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of starting a business with a friend. It takes more than enjoying one another’s company for a successful business partnership.
Some questions to ask before making any financial decisions include:
- Will you each be equal investors?
- How much should you each invest if it’s not equal?
- What are your business goals?
- What responsibilities will each of you take on?
To help you decide whether or not starting a business with a friend is a good option, we’ve compiled the pros and cons of turning friends into founders.
Pro #1: Companion for the Ups and Downs of Business
In some ways, starting a business with a friend is like a marriage because you’re supposed to be there for each other through thick and thin. Your friend and partner is someone you can go to for help or someone to do tasks with.
Many of the intimidating aspects of business may be easier to do with a friend, like approaching investors. A partner can give you confidence and support, and you might end up achieving more than if you did it on your own.
Con #1: Your People Are Their People
Since you two likely know the same people, it can be hard to separate work from life. More likely than not, it will be harder to spend time away from your business partner in order to disconnect.
Make sure you take time away to cultivate your personal relationships apart from each other and give each other space when needed.
Pro #2: Understanding Each Other Like No One Else Could
Familiarity with your business partner is what most entrepreneurs learn along the way, but if you start a business with a friend, you already know their strengths and weaknesses. This may give you an upper hand when it comes to delegating tasks based on individual strengths.
Feel free to discuss adding employees or virtual assistants to help you with the tasks you both might be weaker on.
Con #2: Your Friendship Could Become Strictly Business
When you mix business and friendship, there’s a chance that your business could take over your relationship. If one of you takes work too seriously or someone doesn’t take it seriously enough, it can cause a rift that damages your friendship.
Prioritize each part of your identities during appropriate times. Your partnership may take precedence during working hours, but make sure to carve out quality time with each other outside of work.
Pro #3: Comfortable Communication is Second Nature
A strong friendship foundation is a huge plus when it comes to open and honest communication. It allows you to gauge how your business partner may react to different situations and communicate with each other more effectively.
Take note of your friend’s communication style and use a complimentary style to build a solid business partnership.
Con #3: Drama Could Get in the Way
When you mix the professional with the personal, it can be difficult to avoid emotions in everything that you do. There’s always potential for friend drama to make its way into the office.
To avoid this, it helps to set boundaries at the beginning of your business venture about not bringing personal matters into the workplace. Worst case scenario, make sure to take time off in order to clear your heads and return to work with a clean slate.
Before jumping into a business opportunity with your friend, preparation is key. Make sure you assess your relationship and your business goals together so that you can see if your partnership will be sustainable in the long run.
Mixing friendship and business isn’t for everyone, so use this infographic from Mint to help you decide if your friendship is ready to be a business partnership.