Evan Goodman

5 Relationship-Saving Things You Should Remember Before Starting a Small Business with Friends

A lot of things are more fun with friends, and small businesses are no exception. There’s nothing like going to the office and working with people you’ve known and trusted your whole life. Unfortunately, a small business is a stressful endeavor, one that can damage relationships irreparably if you’re not careful. There are a few things you should clear up before getting into bed with friends:

 Get Tough Conversations Done First

 There’s a lot of power dynamics in play when you’re in business with friends, and those dynamics should be sorted out before fully committing. That means deciding on who’s in charge of what, as well as equity, salary, titles, and job description. These discussions can be awkward and uncomfortable, but they’re necessary. Don’t put these talks off. It’ll only become more difficult the more there is at stake.

It’s Not Up to a Vote

A lot of things are up to a group vote when with friends. Where to eat, where to hang out, and so forth. However, you’re not just hanging out anymore. Now you’re running a small business. No small business has made executive decisions by virtue of vote. The boss calls the shots, and each head of department decides on the best way to accomplish their set goals. Calling for votes slows things down and can negatively impact the company’s performance and productivity. Let the CEO take charge. That’s why he or she was chosen for the role.

Do Your Job and Stick to It

While people in a small business tend to wear many hats due to limited manpower, the truth is you’ll have a role and you should stick to it. A collaborative approach is fine and can even feel natural when working with friends, but it’s best for egos for people to stay in their lanes. Everyone was assigned to their current roles because that’s what they’re good at. Let them do their best. If there is a collaboration, the one who’s heading the department the task falls under should have final say.

Be Inclusive

Working with friends can be incredible for productivity. You’ll end up talking shop when you’re just hanging out with them, which can lead to great ideas. However, this can also easily develop into an inner circle. You won’t be the only people in the office, especially as the small business grows, so don’t keep to yourselves. Talk to your other employees as well. Hold weekly meetings to align everyone with any office developments. Involve all relevant personnel in brainstorming, and not just friends.

Hire with Perspectives in Mind

While you and your friends are different people, the fact is if you’re hanging out together a lot that your perspectives may have blended somewhat. It doesn’t mean you never disagree or that you don’t have a wealth of opinions, but there is often enough similarity in experience that you should be concerned about variety. This is enough of a concern that you should consider a potential employee’s life experience before hiring them. You don’t want to get people who may share the same blind spots you and your friends have.

Launching a small business with your friends can be an incredible experience. It’s a unique adventure, growing a company, and its own made richer by people whom you care about and love. It won’t be easy, and at points relationships may become strained, but if you approach things carefully and draw clear boundaries, it should all work out. 

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