Maintaining Your Work/Personal Relationships: A Guide To Monetizing Your Friends

Some people will tell you that it’s a mistake to do business with friends, but those people are wrong. The truth is that your friends are actually some the best people to get on board when it comes to bringing your startup idea to life. They’ll be invested in your success, they’re easily accessible, and — if you can’t afford them — they’re likely to be open to an alternative arrangement until your business is up and running. For this reason, many budding entrepreneurs tend to utilize the skills of their friends and family in order to fill the gaps in their own knowledge whilst setting up their businesses.

Working with people that you can trust is a fundamental part of building your startup and who can you trust more than the people who are already an integral part of your daily life?

Admittedly, there’s a reason why some people will tell you that it’s a bad idea to hire your friends. And that’s because of the risk that a business relationship can pose to the friendship you’ve developed. Of course, that risk is always there, but there are ways to minimize it if you do things the right way.

Nepotism: The Elephant In The Room

Here’s the thing, nepotism isn’t always so bad. It’s arguably much smarter to make your initial hires from the talent that’s readily available within your personal and professional networks, rather than hiring an unknown straight off the street. I’m not talking about giving your kid brother as job as CEO; I’m talking about offering opportunities to the contacts you already have who are qualified for the positions you have available.

Your friends already believe in you, so they’ll probably work for peanuts to help you out in the startup stage, which means that you’ll be able to hire people that you couldn’t actually afford otherwise.

Transparency Works Both Ways

If you don’t want your business dealings to interfere with your friendships, then don’t screw your friends over. It’s as simple as that. Before you even think about onboarding your friends to your business, be very clear about your expectations and how you predict things will go over the first 12 months.

If they won’t be seeing a healthy paycheck for at least a year, then you’d better darn well tell them that before they go and jack in their lucrative careers to work on your pet project.

Utilize Referrals

It’s not just about who you know. As your business grows, the contacts that your friends have will also become your trusted business allies and potential new recruits for your business. If you’re working on a new project that needs a designer, your friend may already have a trusted freelancer whom they use that’s available to take the gig. And if you need a writer, that designer might have a recommendation from their own network too. It’s all about utilizing your network in the best possible way in order to get the best possible results

Deal With Conflict Head-On

You’re friends — you’ll argue — that’s what friends do. The important thing is that you respect each other and find a way to work out any issues before they escalate. Whilst arguments amongst friends can drain your energy, arguments with work colleagues can drain your bank balance. You can’t treat your friends like regular work colleagues, it just won’t work, you have to acknowledge that there’s a relationship there and find a way to balance that familiarity with your professional relationship.

This means taking time to ensure that you don’t neglect your friendship, by planning meetups and drinks, etc. outside of work, and remembering that you’re friends — not just work colleagues.

Finally, Put Boundaries In Place

Your personal relationships will never survive if you end up talking about work all of the time. But this can be a tough one; especially when you’re launching a new business. One of the best ways to deal with this is to impose a ‘business curfew’. So, for example, if you set a cut off time for 9pm, that means that if your friend calls you for a chat at 9.05pm you cannot talk about anything business related!

Want to chat about the latest episode of Ballers? Cool. Need advice on an outfit for a night out? Great. But if you’ve any work concerns, leave them until the next day and give your friendship some TLC for a few hours instead.

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