Business and Pleasure – Mention this to anyone you know, and they’ll shake their heads. Mixing your business life and your personal life could end in disaster, they’ll say. That will spell the end for the business and for the friendship.
But not necessarily — what if your friend also happens to be a perfect fit for the business? What if he or she can offer you something (a service or a product) that no one else can? Are you supposed to just ignore it because you were friends first?
The truth is that plenty of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs started successful businesses with their friends — just look at Facebook. If you learn how to work together, and to respect each other and your newly complicated friendship while putting business first when it needs to come first, you can mix friendship and business.
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Here Are Five Ways To Mix PLeasure And Business.
First, Make Sure You Can Truly Trust Your Friend
Yes, you have a great time together and share a ton of laughs. You have mutual friends and common interests. But that’s not necessarily enough to make you good business partners. Make sure that you know how your friend reacts to certain situations, what her beliefs are, his temperament, and how he reacts to stress.
How does she handle tough times and high-pressure events? You need to know these things before going into business with someone.
Does Your Friend Have A Skill That You Can Utilize?
It’s a potential win-win situation. Your friend has a talent that you just happen to need. You can give her work and a steady paycheck. You’ll get to spend more time together to boot.
Before you envision going for lattes on your break and jump into working together, sit down and discuss what you both need and want from this working arrangement, and sign a contract. It could save your friendship if things go south.
Establish Ground Rules
If you plan to enter a partnership with a friend, be sure to set some ground rules. What is friend time and what is work time? Who is investing what money, time and space? How will you divide the workload? Be sure to create rules you can both live with, and get all of this in writing.
Set Aside Time To Just Be Friends
If you’re starting a business together, it can be very time-consuming getting it off the ground. You might found that you spend all of your time talking about the business, hashing out ideas, arguing about money, and that all the things that made you friends in the first place have fallen by the wayside. Make time to grab a drink together or see a movie once in a while.
Know where to draw the line between friendship and work
Remember that when you’re working together, it’s just that – you’re at work. Save friendly banter and familiar chatter for when you’re away from the office, or your other workers could claim favoritism, or worse yet, leave their own professional behavior at the door.
I asked Stephen T. Johnson, the CEO of FlipMass for his opinion, “There is a fine line between the people you used to go out with, and the people that you’re building something bigger than yourself with. Choose wisely when it comes to mixing business and pleasure.”
Mixing friendship and business can be done, as long as you plan, discuss the details, remain professional at all times and mind your behavior in the workplace.
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4 Ways to Successfully Mix Business & Pleasure
It’s easy to create mental barriers between “friends” and “business.” But there are ways to do business with friends without endangering either one of you. Here are some four things to keep in mind to make sure both parties are happy.
1. Look for a win-win.
Put yourself in your friend’s shoes and look for ideas on how you could solve their problems. The stakes don’t have to be particularly high to begin with; the key is to find a way that both of you can benefit from the initial business interaction. A quick win can be as simple as exchanging connections or looking for similar challenges that you can solve together. Regardless of the situation, find ways to help each other and keep the conversation going so you can continue to find win-win situations in the future.
2. Seek to help first.
It is always better to give than to receive, especially when it comes to friends in a business context. Start a relationship before you need anything by offering help, connections, opportunities, or referrals. A great method to start a conversation is to ask two trusted questions: How are you? How are things professionally?
3. Don’t be afraid to ask…but be tactful.
When you understand that a friend can help, either directly by buying your product or service, or indirectly by recommending or introducing themselves, you can ask about your business! All relationships are built on trust, and letting a friend know you love their business opens up a two-way communication that can pay off. Don’t be pushy, but let them know that you will enjoy their business.
4. Choose the right time and place.
A dinner party or sporting event is a great opportunity to start a conversation, but it’s usually not the right place to discuss establishing a business partnership. Instead, use the dinner as an opportunity to schedule a follow-up discussion in a more business-friendly environment. Lunch, coffee, meeting at the office and drinks at the bar can be effective; it’s just a matter of figuring out where you feel most comfortable and what is the best location for your existing relationship.
The Bottom Line
Any strong business relationship is built on trust, so why not build a business relationship that already has a solid foundation of trust through friendship? As long as you are focused on creating value for both parties, there is no reason to build an artificial wall between friends and business.
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