Dear Aunty B,
I am going into business with a really good friend that I have known a long time. I have read what you say about going into business with friends (“don’t”) so I am looking at this with my eyes wide open.
I have done a long list of the pros and cons and I have two concerns.
One, we love to gasbag. How do we change the pattern of a lifetime and become professional? And how do we keep the friendship that I highly value?
Second, we are both good at the same things (design and marketing). Already things have got a bit tense as we are both passionate. Any suggestions?
Huh! Well at least you have considered my advice even if you haven’t taken it. Look, I do know successful businesses where the directors are friends and have remained friends. (I just know more cases where it has completely stuffed up and ruined businesses and lives, but never mind that.)
They have worked very hard to set up rules and then been very disciplined about sticking to them.
So you are gasbags. Why not start off every meeting with three minutes allocated to gasbagging? Then that’s it. Start the meeting and don’t stray.
The friendship might change. For example you probably won’t want to catch up nearly as often outside work – or maybe not at all.
As for both being good at similar tasks… divide them up. You do marketing, she does design. Then absolutely respect that you are each in charge of the different area.
Any problems? Don’t let little things loom large. Focus on your end goals. Learn to let things go, bite your tongue and practice being a saint. Ultimately successful partnerships comes down to three things – respect, sharing values, and not getting greedy.
Your Aunty B