Should You Start a Business with Your Friends? The Pros and Cons.
Best friends are one of the greatest joys of life. If asked about your best friend right now, you’d probably smile, right? There are so many reasons you chose your best friend, and they chose you. The two of you have inside jokes, secret languages, and an easy way of being together that you don’t have with anyone else.
Because of this, it may seem like a no-brainer to start a business with your bestie. You’re already together nearly 24/7. Why not find a way to make a profit?
Many businesses have started when two best friends said, “Hey! Let’s do this thing together!” Just click on the “About Us” or “Our Story” links on business websites: plenty of times you’ll see two best buds who found a way to become entrepreneurs together.
Starting and running a business with your bff can be both fun and rewarding. But before you jump in together, consider these pros and cons.
*PRO: YOU ALREADY HAVE SIMILAR INTERESTS
You volunteer together at a nursing home. You’re in the same AP classes. You dream of attending the same college and picking the same major.
Since starting a business means surrounding yourself with like-minded team members, you’re already one step ahead by starting with your best friend!
*PRO: YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO IT ALONE
Starting a new business is hard. At least with your bestie beside you, you’re not on that path all by yourself. You are each other’s support systems and you’re always right there, helping one another bounce back during the tough times.
*PRO: WORK IS ASSIGNED BASED ON STRENGTHS
You’re the treasurer of every club you join. Bestie is on the mic at every fundraiser. Right there you’ve got your Chief Financial Officer, or CFO (you), and your Head of Marketing (best friend).
Of course, you’ll continually figure out more strengths and weaknesses as you go along, but the fact that you already know where each of you thrives is an excellent start.
*PRO: YOU COVER EACH OTHER’S BLIND SPOTS
Do you always leave your phone in the car and your bff constantly reminds you to take it with you? Is your best friend maybe not great at speaking up for themselves in social situations, so you’ve become their champion?
These are your “blind spots.” We’re willing to bet that after some time together, you and your best friend already cover blind spots for one another. Isn’t that a great quality to have in a business partner?
*PRO: YOU’LL CELEBRATE VICTORIES TOGETHER
Think of it as the ultimate high-five. Every small victory for the business is a victory for you both. What better way to celebrate your business’s success than with your best friend?
*PRO: THIS COULD STRENGTHEN YOUR FRIENDSHIP
You’ve been in the trenches together, you’ve seen the business struggle together, and you’ve worked as a team to see it succeed. All these shared moments can strengthen your bond.
The two of you have been tested. And you’ve passed. Together.
*CON: STARTING A BUSINESS IS ALREADY TOUGH
Go ahead and ask any entrepreneur out there about how they started their business. We’re willing to bet that few, if any, will tell you how easy it was. There’s a reason for that old saying, “Never mix business with pleasure.”
Think about your worst days and how you handle them. Do you want to expose your best friend to that? Do you think the two of you have what it takes to stick together through thick and thin?
*CON: DIFFERENT GOALS
Just because you both love working with animals doesn’t mean you will have the same business goals. Perhaps you want to bring attention to stray animals in need. But your best friend wants to focus on volunteering with shelter animals. If your goals for the business aren’t in line, you’re already starting on the wrong foot.
*CON: DIFFERENT LEVELS OF COMMITMENT
This may not be an automatic deal-breaker, but an uneven amount of time committed to the business could foster resentment. It’s fine if one of you can only devote a third of the hands-on time as the other, so long as this is clearly stated and understood from the beginning. Otherwise, one of you will always feel like you’re doing the heavy lifting while the other one gets a free ride.
*CON: MONEY AND INVESTMENTS
Hoo-boy, this can be a tough one. Nothing like money to come between friends! When one of you has invested your own money (or parents’ money) into the start-up but the other hasn’t, it can make for an awkward dynamic. The personal investor may feel more ownership of the business.
Even if you’ve financed your startup solely through outside investors, you or your best friend may still feel like you’ve done most of the work while the other one gets to enjoy the success. Consider this point very carefully before you get started.
*CON: THERE WILL BE CONFLICT
There is conflict in all aspects of life. But when you and your bestie are on your entrepreneurial paths together, that conflict will be bigger than simply whose turn it is to ride shotgun in the car.
How have you and your best friend resolved conflicts between you in the past? How have you felt afterward? Without a solid method of conflict resolution between you two, every molehill of a disagreement in your business venture together will quickly grow into an insurmountable mountain.
*CON: YOUR RELATIONSHIP WILL CHANGE
Are you prepared to see a whole new side of your best friend? That is, the business side?
It’s one thing to hang out casually, get food together, or stick together in group situations. Being business partners is something else entirely. A business isn’t a hang-out. It isn’t a sleepover. It’s work, and that means buckling down and getting serious. Can you be professional with your best friend? Can they be professional with you?
Should you decide to move forward on a business together, make sure you communicate with one another. Communication is key. You should be very clear about your own goals and expectations upfront. Who will do what job? How will you handle disagreements?
You need to trust one another. If you’ve both agreed that bestie will handle the money while you produce the product, then let them handle the money. Don’t start micromanaging each other or drifting into each other’s lanes.
Separate work and play. Keep nurturing your friendship. Not everything has to be a business meeting. But when you are working, you’re working. That means keeping your emotions in check and focusing on the business.
Remember, we’re rooting for you – and, if they’re involved, we’re rooting for your best friend, too!
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation, including our college scholarships for young entrepreneurs in Florida, by clicking here. We look forward to your application!