Before going into business with your BFF there’s quite a few things to consider. People often assume that going into business with a friend will be fun and easier than with a stranger because you know each other so well. Going into business with friends (or family) is actually much harder!! Why? Because you have baggage. Lots of it. Sometimes more than you know.
When you go into business with a friend, it’s almost like getting married and Lord knows marriage is not easy. All of a sudden you realize that this person’s decisions can have a direct impact on you, whether you like it or not. Going into business with your best friend can either turn you into arch enemies or into sisters, so consider a few things before taking the leap.
Contract- You need two contracts, a business one and a friendship one. One should outline clearly each individual’s role in the company so that you make sure you don’t step on each other’s toes. Most importantly, clear and detailed information as to how finances are divided in terms of ownership, debt, investment, etc. When you start a business with a friend and no money is being made yet, you tend to get caught up in the creative excitement and leave these financial questions for later on. Don’t wait to make money before figuring out who gets what because you’ll be surprised with how quickly people’s minds can change when they give or take money. Just like finances is the number one cause for divorce, so it is in business relationships. Have fun and be optimistic but definitely prepare for the worst case scenario just in case.
Friendship contract- Is meant to be a reminder of the friendship that existed before the business. It’s a promise to remember the good times and to remember that best friends always have each other’s backs. It should outline conflict resolutions and a set of rules to maintain the friendship.
Time apart makes the heart grow fonder- I know it’s hard to believe right now because you have so much fun everytime you hang out but yes, it is possible to spend too much time with someone. Like in relationships, sometimes it’s good to take some space to breathe. Nothing makes you appreciate someone more than their absence. Missing her might help you cool off if you’re arguing or at the very least, it will remind you why you are BFFs in the first place.
Speaking of reminders, make sure to still have girls night. Another parallel between a business partnership and marriage is that you have to make the time for quality time. It’s easy to lose sight of the relationship when you are constantly thinking about work and being consumed by the day to day grind. Just like making time for date night away from the kids and so on, make time for girls night. This will remind you of your bond and make things a little smoother when it’s time to head back to work.
Never give more than what you can afford to lose – This goes for time, effort and financial investment. Giving beyond your means is a direct road to resentment, and to return from there is quite difficult. Of course in business you have to take risks but make sure that when you have a partner, the risk taken is equal and one you can afford to make.
Your partner is flawed just like you are and those same flaws are probably why the two of you shared many laughs together. Although now, mistakes may cost you money. Keep in mind that they will happen, and the sooner you learn to manage this new dynamic, the sooner you will find success. With time, the business dynamic between best friends can be a really fun one. Once you learn to communicate in a business setting, the synergy of the friendship can actually be an asset because you’ll be able to complement each other.
In the end, the important part is that your business partner remains your partner in crime no matter what happens to your start up.