The start of a New Year is always a great time to catch up with old friends and ex-colleagues. Finding out what people’s ambitions are for the year ahead and discussing potential business ideas always gives hope to greater things ahead. It is not uncommon after a few drinks to think that you have come up with the greatest idea since sliced bread and that forming a business relationship with your best friend will put you on the road to financial glory. But before you chuck in your old job and sail down a path unknown, best to work out some basic rules before that friendship and business idea fall over before day one.
10 tips for working with your friends
1. Share the same goals
Before you agree to take on the world together, ensure that you have the same vision. If one person wants to make the business a global entity, while the other is content on just having one per cent market share locally, it is never going to work.
2. Set the rules from the outset
It is imperative that after your initial handshake that you establish some basic rules, such as whether you will be working from home or renting office space, and if you do the latter whereabouts exactly? Equally important is the hours you will work, who is responsible for what and the list goes on.
3. Draw up a legal contract
If you have agreed in principle to work together then get a legal contract drawn up as soon as possible listing all the essentials such as capital invested, equity share, director’s responsibilities, fundraising, and legal responsibilities amongst other vital details.
4. Find someone who will compliment your skill sets
There is no point going into business with someone who has the exact same skill set as you, especially if there are just two of you. You need to complement each other, which will clearly help expand the business and make outlining responsibilities much easier.
5. Make sure you can work together
It is one thing to enjoy someone’s company over a few drinks and a nice meal, it is another to spend hours upon hours working side by side, especially in the early days/weeks/months, when things are very tough. Spend some time together to ensure that you have the same basic philosophies when it comes to business.
6. Be honest with each other
It is very easy to let little issues fester and not say anything, but the problem here is that they normally turn into bigger issues that result in an explosive argument. Have an honest and forthright discussion at least once a week to make sure that all matters are dealt with as quickly as possible.
7. How will you resolve disagreements?
If there are only two of you, then chances are you won’t agree on everything, and you can’t let your ego get out of hand when the other person doesn’t want to do something your way. You need to work out from the beginning how you will resolve conflicts.
8. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses
Besides having your own business capabilities and points of strengths, it would be worthwhile not only stating your weaknesses but also being honest about the things you don’t like to do or would prefer to outsource.
9. Be prepared to seek outside expertise
While the two of you may be very bright and experienced, it doesn’t always mean that you will be able to solve every problem. Don’t be afraid in seeking outside expertise on an issue that may help grow or even hinder your business.
10. How will you differentiate between personal and brand values?
This is an important question. The two of you may have very different personal values and that will have a bearing upon what your business brand values are too. Do the two have to be similar? That is only a question that you and your business partner can answer.