You’ve probably heard a story about a group of friends who had a business idea and work together, and wonder if this is something you could do. You may have heard a story about a group of friends who worked together and it destroyed their friendship, and it put you off the idea all together. So is starting a business with a personal friend a good idea?
Unlike their male counterparts, women are less likely to differentiate between their personal and professional lives. For example, men can cut business deals with other men on a Friday, and go golfing with the same men on a Saturday. That is to say, they can separate business and personal. If business deals go south with a friend, it isn’t as likely to impact their friendship as it might in a female personal/business relationship. This isn’t to say all women are like this, or that it is not a desirable trait to have. However, women tend to take business matters personally, and mixing friendship with business can lead to bad places.
Look at many MLM (Multi Level Marketing) businesses set up now. Most are based around making your friendship circle your customers and business associates. Friends and family can work as great word of mouth online and in person when first starting a business. Women I meet through interviews and networking have become some of my closest friends. For a woman, it can all become intertwined.
Women build personal relationships through business relationships, and vice versa. There is nothing wring with this, and even can work in a woman’s favour. But it can be dangerous.
There are many famous success stories of friends becoming business partners, such as the girls from cult hair brand Hello Hair. But for every success story, there is ten not-so-successful stories.
So how can you optimise your business and personal relationships? If you are not keen on the idea of keeping business and personal relationships separate, there are ways to still keep a successful business with all your relationships intact.
Don't Take Work Personally
This is a particularly difficult one, but there is a high chance from being friends with a work partner or colleague that you will come into a disagreement. Maybe they decide they don't like your proposal and they go with someone else's. Maybe you were up for a promotion and they were on the board to decide who got it. And you didn't. It is incredibly hard to be ok with these things and not let it ruin your personal friendship. This is when having very good communication with the other party is important, and being able to air your disappointment and grievances without worry is vital. But don't expect your friend to turn around and change their work decision because they are your friend. If they give you a genuine reason why they made a decision they did, as a colleague it is your job to respect it. And it is your job as a friend to be compassionate about it. Going against your idea or not choosing you for a promotion probably wasn't an easy choice to make, and it doesn't mean they care for you any less.
No Work Talk At Home
Just like bringing the office home can be detrimental to a romantic relationship, it can also be hard on your platonic friendships. This is made difficult if you go into business together, but set times that you know you can talk about business freely, and have set times and places that you know you don't talk about business. Remember you became friends for a reason, that isn't centred around work. Spend time as friends, not as colleagues or business partners, and cut the work talk for a little while.
Take A Break With Each Other
On the flip side, sometimes it can be good to take a break from one another. If you're seeing each other at work and then also outside of work, it can become a little too much, regardless how close you are as friends. Everyone needs time away and the break will make you more excited to catch up and see your friend.
Separating work and friendship can be a difficult line to walk, but it is so rewarding. Making friends for life from the workforce seems so easy, but it can be just as easy to cross that line into dangerous territory. But by following boundaries and having respect for each other, you can have a successful close work and personal friend.