Doing business with family and friends is a disaster! Help

Dear Aunty B,

I started my business with a very close friend. The business is now four years old and very successful.

The trouble is he is a very good at what he does (he is a designer) but hopeless as a manager or partner of the business. He can’t do strategy, sales, marketing, HR, accounting – the list goes on.

The only way he can do anything outside design is if he is given specific instructions. However he is drawing a similar salary to myself. He has no real idea what a drain he is on the business. In fact he comes to meetings with me and jokes away to the clients, thinking he is building rapport when in fact he is driving them nuts! We are suffering a bit with this downturn and that is making it even harder!

Don’t tell me to sack him because our families are friends and I would be ostrizised from our network of friends.

South Yarra


Dear DG,

You have ignored centuries of advice and gone into business with a friend so you have got what you deserve. Harsh? I know. But it’s the truth!

Here is what you should do.

Give him a title as design manager and tell him you are paying him accordingly to market rates. When he balks, give him two options. Resign from the company and keep his shares. Or resign from the company and sell his shares. Explain that while your friendship means everything, you must run a successful business for stakeholders, which includes shareholders, which includes him!

The downturn is the perfect excuse to raise the topic.


Deep down he knows the success has mainly come from you. You might be surprised at his response. On the other hand your resentment towards him will only grow unless you take action.

Good luck,

Your Aunty B

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch

What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments