Part Two: Friendships and Business – Keeping it Professional
In our last blog we discussed the implications of working with friends and the importance of open, honest and goal-focused conversations before proceeding. That is simply one aspect that is to be considered. The other is to recognize that there will be changing dynamics within the friendship and the need to get to know each other in a different context – a business context. Once roles change, the relationship will change. Can your friendships, and business, handle it?
From Friendships to Business Relationships
Often friends go into business without a true understanding of the value the other will bring to the outcome. You might have known your friend in university or met through a common friend, but that relationship has little to do with how well the relationship will transition to one of business. It is critically important for both parties to go into a con-versation with the understanding that a business relationship will change the dynamics of the friendship; and that the roles and expectations set up have nothing to do with the friendship, but everything to do with the contract and health of the business.
“Entrepreneurs have a tendency to look to their immediate social network to find those who can help support their business,” says Roy Murad, Canadian Entrepreneur and Business Consultant. “While there are definite benefits to bringing in those you trust, it is important to find out if those you want to bring in to your business will be a professional fit. You need to understand that roles and connections with change through the duration of the business relationship, but there are steps you can take to set yourself up for the best possible outcome.”
It’s time to take a look at your friend through a business filter. Regardless of prior relationships, take time to ensure that every one you bring into your business is measured against the same markers.
Alignment of Core Values: Your core values should underly every business decision you make and identifying those core values is your first step to understanding who will fit into your business. A misalignment of core values could hurt more than just your friendship.
Same Rules Apply: The same way you should apply consistent rules to the hiring process, once in the door you’ll have to remember that your friend will have to be treated the same as all other employees and colleagues. You absolutely cannot provide a different set of values because they are a friend. Not only will it set the wrong tone and expectations, but it will impact the overall morale and internal culture.
Nurture Friendships Outside of Work: There’s no doubt that a burgeoning business relationship will put stress on any friendship, so take some time outside of business hours to reconnect with your friend. And leave the business talk back at the office.
The key is to set initial expectations correctly for each element of the business i.e. job responsibilities, pay back of financing etc., and then change the expectations as you grow. At the end of the day your friendship may grow stronger, or weaker, due to the changing dynamics of your relationship, but it will be key to focus on how the relation-ship affects the business. If both parties are focused on what’s best for the business, that’s the ultimate best relationship you could have.
Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.
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