So, you’re thinking of starting a business, but you don’t want to solo. Now, you’ve decided to partner with a friend.
Starting a business with your friend is a great idea. It’s incredibly rewarding, but it’s important to also know that it comes with its own challenges.
Here’s how you can make setting up a business with a friend work:
Define your roles
Define your roles, and do it early. If you’ve never worked together, translating what you know about your friend’s skills from a social context into a business one is tough. And it’ll feel more natural taking a more collaborative approach toward everything.
That may work to a point, but it’s better when you both can own a different portion of the business. To do this right means you both understand the strengths and weaknesses of each other, and using that knowledge to clearly define everyone’s individual responsibilities.
Do you share the same goals and values?
Before venturing into a business partnership with your friend, ask yourself if you share same business goals and values, and if your habits aligns. If your friend — and potential business partner has a drastically different set of value and belief, you should think twice about mixing your finances and futures together.
In the same vein, it’d be a red flag if one of you wanted to build a lifestyle business that could last decades, and the other had the goal of creating a high-growth business that could be acquired within a year or two. These fundamental differences in growth strategies would lead to conflict.
Separate business and pleasure
Let your friendship be overrun by conversations about clients, new hires and cash flow projections, and set aside times when business is off limits.
Have a protocol for communication. For example, only use text message, Whatsapp or BBM when it’s personal or related to traveling together and a quick a reply is needed. Otherwise, stick with the official means of communication used in your company – emails, slack or phone calls.
Don’t shut people out
When starting a business with a friend, your social life becomes a catalyst for innovation. A significant chunk of your idea sessions will end up taking place outside of the office, whether on the weekends, or at home.
This is a real asset to you and your co-founder, but you need to be careful not to exclude new team members who aren’t part of your longstanding circle. Else, you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. Make extra efforts to make sure everyone else on your team feels in.
Have the tough conversations early
Establishing rules regarding frequency and manner of communication between the partners is key when it comes to working with friends. Just because you both share a passion for your business does not necessarily mean that you have the same perspective on each and every decision that will need to be made.
Talking through tough decisions and coming to mutually agreeable terms strengthens both the relationship and the business. On the other hand, ambiguity exposes the cracks in relationships and can be a pitfall. Regularly scheduled, open and honest communication is an essential part of a successful partnership.
Did these tips help? Tell us in the comments!