Can You Have Effective Business Relationships With Friends?


Can You Have Effective Business Relationships With Friends?

‘Business and friendship don’t mix’, so the old adage goes. 

In many cases, this is fair warning, after all, nobody wants to lose a friend to a sour business deal. Sometimes (particularly in little communities) it’s quite likely you will already know or have befriended people you would otherwise choose to do business with.

So, is it possible to have effective business relationships with friends? Of course, it is.

Here are 9 tips to help you effectively do business with friends:

1. Try a little before you go in boots and all.

You trust your friend and no doubt you’ve had many conversations about their brilliance. However, are they really (I mean really) good at what they do? Rather than jumping in boots and all, start off on a micro-project, gently put them through their paces and see if the fit is right. By the end of your small project, it’s likely that you’ll know if your friend is the right fit for your business, and how you will work together.

2. Clearly, articulate all expectations.

My friend, Rosemary Shapiro-Liu and I often do business together. Why does it work? Because Rosemary is a master of expectation setting. At the outset of any interaction, she will gently and carefully draw out the expectations of the other party and express her own. Nothing starts until this is not only on the table but pointing in the same direction.

3. Establish clear deliverables in writing.

Once expectations are understood get it down in writing, just as you would (or should) with any other supplier.

4. Establish transparent communication protocols.

When will meetings happen? What times are phone calls okay? Is Messenger acceptable or is email preferable? What needs to be in place to ensure both parties are okay to speak freely and transparently, particularly if the situation isn’t working? Ensure all are outlined in the abovementioned work agreement.

5. Schedule regular check-ins.

Even when you are on a tight timeline, and there isn’t a lot of time for water cooler conversation, ensure you schedule at least weekly check-ins. This will ensure that if anything isn’t going quite to plan it can be sorted before things spiral out of control.

6. Commit to speaking up if things aren’t going right.

Very few people enjoy ‘difficult’ conversations. However, the only way your friend/business relationship is going to span time is if you are prepared to speak out (within reason) when you aren’t happy. Failure to do so is sure to harbour unresolved grudges which will ultimately impact upon the friendship.

7. Be conscious about switching business and friendship on and off.

As a Small Business owner, it’s likely many of your conversations are related to your business. However, when you’re doing business with a mate, draw a clear boundary between ‘talking shop’ and conducting your friendship as it was before the business relationship.

8. Ensure transparency, equity and clarity in the hiring process.

This is always important and even more when you are spending someone else’s money (e.g. your client, boss or shareholders). Nepotism is never looked upon fondly, and you will need to be prepared to provide evidence your mate was the best person for the job.

9. Avoid making assumptions.

Above all, the best advice when doing business with friends is avoid making assumptions.

Follow the abovementioned steps, and it’s quite likely you will feel a whole lot more comfortable adding your trusted circle to your business contacts.

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