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Starting a business with your friends is incredibly exciting, but it does come with its own challenges. You want people whose passion and drive will make you feel as though you’ve got to operate beyond your limits. The right co-founders will have the skills and experience beyond what you know, which makes you both a great team.
Here are five tips on running a business well with your friends:
The importance of genuine and constant communication cannot be understated. This is always the case and its significance is only magnified when working with friends, or in our case, family members.
Often times, because people are friends, that may not want to be confrontational. In the short term this may feel better but in the long term, this is a recipe for disaster (both for your business and your friendship).
We sit down at the start of each week to discuss and communicate what we have on our to-do list for the week and can hold each other accountable day-to-day. We also call short WIPs to throughout the week to get back on the same page if need be.
2. Ensure your motivations are in-line
Usually with friends, it’s easy to dive into a start-up opportunity or business relationship that is appealing, fun and could be profitable. But if your motivations aren’t aligned, whether it’s in a few months of a few years, your partnership will inevitably fail.
When the idea of Nexba was first born, we sat down and made sure we both had the same vision and motives for starting the business. It really cemented the fact that we were aligned and in it for the same reasons.
3. Provide support & challenges
Working together means you have unique insights into your friend’s professional successes and setbacks. Therefore, you’re positioned to be on of their best supporters and sympathisers, or at least, the most immediate one.
Supporting your friend may seem like a given, but it’s not always easy and a perceived lack of support can lead to relationship conflicts. Always be sure to be there when they need you, focus on their feelings in the moments, and celebrate or console as the situation dictates.
4. Remember it’s always personal
Although you may want/try to be business-minded in your interactions in order to maintain professionalism, you must also remember that because you and your friend have a personal relationship, even work matters will have a personal element.
It is also key to be aware of the impact your words and actions may have on your friend/business partner. Something as simple as giving them a heads up in advance that you’re not going to be able to attend your regular meeting with them in the afternoon will be appreciated.
5. Trust each other
One of the most critical elements in a functioning business relationship is having complete trust in one another. Without trust, you will spend your entire time looking over your shoulder and second-guessing everything your friend/business partner does and says.