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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

Going Into Business with a Friend: First Steps

Last week, we discussed important things to consider if you are wanting to go into business with someone who is already your friend. While any new business involves risk, doing so with someone you care about puts your relationship on the line, too.


If you’ve decided to take the plunge and open up shop with your buddy, consider our recommendations below to help keep both the business and the friendship strong.


Clarify how your values will be operationalized: As we noted last week, partners who share values will find it easier to work together. Clarifying how these values translate into the day to day operations of running the business is important. At G2 Solutions, for example, it’s understood that family always comes first. Each of us expects and encourages the other to drop everything for a loved one in need, even if it means the other partner must pick up the slack for a bit. Because we share this value and mutually support each other in it, there is no chance for resentment to take root when one of us is pulled away.


Set up clear and legally sound structures: Just because you are very good friends, doesn’t mean you should be lax about how you structure your working partnership. Money matters can strain even the strongest friendships, making it essential to establish clear financial arrangements from the outset. Determine each partner's financial contribution, ownership structure, profit-sharing mechanisms, and exit strategies. Consult with legal and financial advisors to draft comprehensive partnership agreements that address potential scenarios, responsibilities, and liabilities. While it may seem overly formal, having a solid legal framework in place can protect both the business and the friendship in the long run.


Communicate clearly and often: Communication is key to the success of any business but especially important if you are friends with your business partner. Effective communication helps you align your vision and goals, clarify your expectations of each other, and reduces the frequency and severity of misunderstandings. Sound communication practices help facilitate the exchange of ideas, help you recognize each other's contributions, and fosters a positive and supportive environment. This strengthens the relationship and enhances the motivation to succeed together. Browse our Resource page for more information about how to improve your communication.


Learn to accept feedback: If you or your partner have strong personal reactions when receiving feedback, this will hamper your communication and the productivity of the working relationship. Being defensive when being critiqued or conversely getting stuck in a shame spiral impedes progress. Likewise, each party needs to be accountable for their actions, including their mistakes. Being able to say, “I messed up. I’m sorry” will go a long way toward keeping working relationships robust. To learn more about giving feedback read here. For tips on acknowledging mistakes go here.


Acknowledge which hat you are wearing: Because you will be in a dual relationship of business partner and friend, it can be tricky to balance those two roles. It’s helpful to clarify your perspective when communicating. For example, if discussing how to divide up a task you might say something like, “The business owner in me really cares about this project and wants it to succeed. But as your friend, I know that your capacity to give more time right now is limited.” This helps your partner hear your communication in the way that you intend it and can prevent misunderstandings.


We at G2 Solutions can speak from personal experience that being in business with a good friend is a whole lot of fun and way more enjoyable than doing it on your own. It’s been immensely rewarding for us to strengthen our friendship through our work together.


If you’d like our help in navigating a new partnership with a friend, give us a call. We’d love to help you find this joy, too. 

Image credit: Ava Calvar

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