In some cases, friendships prove to be the backbone of many successful businesses. A number of big-name companies in a number of industries are run by pairs of close friends — from the fashion-forward pals who launched Juicy Couture nearly a decade ago, to the moms (and BFFs) with a passion for healthy snacks who founded Tasty.
“Many times we don’t get to choose who we work with,” says Nicole Zangara, LCSW, author of “Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” “One of the advantages of going into business with your best friend [is] that you get to spend time with someone you really like, respect and admire. That can make working a lot more enjoyable.” Still, it’s no secret that mixing friendship with finances can be risky.
If you’re thinking about turning your partner-in-crime into your business partner, here are 11 tips to take into consideration, courtesy of women who have been there.
Follow These Steps Before Starting a Business with Your Friend
- Make Sure You’re Compatible as Business Partners
- Set Expectations and Goals
- Get Everything in Writing
- Don’t Let Money Become an Issue
- Separate Work From Play
- Define Roles Based on Each of Your Strengths
- Celebrate Small Victories
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
- Learn How to Manage Conflict
- Nurture Your Friendship
- Take Time Apart When Necessary
Make Sure You’re Compatible as Business Partners
The qualities that make people great friends don’t always match the qualities that make people great business partners. Your pal’s tendency to be late, for example, may be endearing when she shows up frazzled to happy hour (20 minutes after she was supposed to), but this habit could be quite frustrating when the same thing happens with an important business meeting.
Amy Creel knows how important it to make an unemotional decision about who you go into business with: She launched Smart Mom LLC with her best friend only to have a huge falling out — to the point that she ended up buying her friend out of the business. “It’s not ‘enough’ to be friends, even best friends,” she says. “You need to know if you are business compatible — sort of like traveling with someone. You can be best buds but horrible travel companions.”
She suggests asking yourself the following: Do you have the same work ethic? The same goals? Have you weathered conflict before? “Dig deep for answers, don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the superficial excitement of starting a business,” she adds. “It’s going to be the toughest road you ever walked so be honest with yourself: Is this someone you can go the distance with?”