When you and a friend have a shared vision, it only seems natural to go into business together. But mistakes you make now, while everything is rosy, could come back to haunt you if things get complicated later — and that can be bad news for both your business relationship and your friendship.
Here are three things that can help you preserve your relationship in the future:
Have clearly defined roles
When you’re first starting up, you may wear a lot of hats — but you and your partner need to understand who is in charge of any given situation or decision. A well-defined order of operations can keep the decision-making process in your business streamlined and prevent disputes over who has the “final call.”
Have a method of communication
The casual give-and-take conversations that exist in your personal relationship have to evolve when you’re doing business together. While it’s no big deal if a friend forgets to tell you something important, a miscommunication between partners can be a disaster. Make sure that you talk about — and agree on — how you’ll handle business information.
Anticipate future conflicts
Your partnership agreement should be in writing and it needs to anticipate what could go wrong in your worlds. A partner’s personal life could have big ramifications on your business. Consider what might happen if there’s a marriage, a divorce or a death — or you just plain stop wanting to work together. Then, make your contingency plans now — while you have the perspective to keep things fair.
Going into business with a friend can be exciting and financially rewarding — but it usually pays to get experienced legal assistance from the start. Having a solid foundation for your business relationship is the best way to preserve your friendship, as well.