When I started my business (40 years ago) I had a business partner.
We didn’t have any clear agreements between us about who was doing what, or how we saw the business making money, or what it would take to do that.
It came as a big surprise to me that within a year we were arguing all the time and eventually we went our separate ways. It took a lot of time, negotiating, heart break – not to mention legal fees – to sort it all out.
Working with friends can be amazing or terrible
What I have learned from my own experience and from the clients, family and business friends I have known in the 40 years since then is that taking the time to work out what your goals are and how you are going to operate saves a lot of heartache, broken relationships and lost money.
It is so easy to take friends and family for granted, or to put them in difficult situations. And when things go wrong, it is far worse than when you have a problem employee or associate. Think of all those Christmas and Birthday parties where you are going to be stuck in the same room together.
Sometimes you sacrifice the business to the relationship – we hear of credit controllers who can’t credit control, sales directors who can’t sell – all kept on to avoid souring a relationship.
Sometimes you sacrifice the relationship. And that can hurt far more than you expected over the longer term.
You don’t have to put yourself or the people you love in that situation. But you do have to set things up properly – and keep working on having two relationships at the same time.
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