Going into business with a friend – is it possible?

Yes! Going into business with a friend is considered taboo by some. Keep your business life and personal life separate. That’s the standard advice.

I’m here to tell you there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going into business with a friend. I’ve done it more than once. That’s mostly because I have smart and amazing friends, but that’s beside the point.

I like to do business with people I’m friends with, because I prefer to do business with people I like. 

My business with friends

Ask A Copy Expert was the first business I started with a friend. It ran for about two years. The only reason it ended was we had a different vision for the business, which can happen to any set of partners.

If you’re wondering, that friend and I are still on very good terms.

The other business I started and am still running with a friend is the System to Thrive Podcast. Jennie Wright and I have been doing it for over 2 years now.

Even though our main businesses are separate, a lot of the stuff we do overlap. The lessons we’ve learned throughout our time together are applicable in any situation where you’re in business with someone.

Just in case you’re thinking of going into business with a friend, here are some important guidelines Jennie and I follow. 

Know each other’s strengths 

Jennie and I have a lot of strengths in common. That said, we’re also very strong in some different ways.

I’m very much a “wing it/fly by the seat of my pants” kind of person. I thrive on chaos. 

Jennie on the other hand does not thrive on chaos. On the contrary, she thrives on pre planning and following a process. Both of those have positives and negatives to them.

Obviously, flying by the seat of your pants is not the way you want to run your business all the time. Yet planning everything ahead doesn’t always allow for flexibility. 

By knowing each other’s strengths, we are able to capitalize on that when necessary. If we need a detailed plan of action, Jennie takes the wheel. When something needs to be done out of the blue, I’m more than ready to step up to the occasion. 

Set expectations before going into business with a friend 

Having clear expectations is the foundation of any healthy relationship.  

Just to be clear, I’m not asking you to hold a grand summit. But you do need to cover your basics. 

I sometimes get into a fight with my husband, then when I look back I realize we fought because we didn’t communicate. We didn’t know what exactly one was expecting the other to do. 

There are no set expectations. Because of that, no one has the opportunity to meet those expectations. 

The same goes for business partners. 

If you don’t tell your partner what needs to be done, or what you are not comfortable doing, you cannot expect them to know. 

Honesty

Your relationship needs to be honest and transparent. 

This can be the hardest part of working with a friend. Wanting to please everyone is part of our nature. This becomes even worse when dealing with friends. 

But sometimes you need to have honest conversations with each other. 

I know sitting down to have frank conversations can suck. But it is necessary. Both Jennie and I have had to sit each other down and get honest. 

Mastering how to have those conversations, which can sometimes be uncomfortable, and still remaining friends means you actually have the hang of this thing. 

The good news is it can be learned, and the more you practice it, the better prepared you are to go into business with a friend. 

Friend hat and business hat 

The lines between business partner and buddy can become quite blurred. That’s why I advise having a friend hat and a business hat. 

Jennie and I actually use those terms. By doing so, we are able to set the tone and mode of a conversation. 

There are times when it’s necessary to put aside all personal feelings and focus on business. And there are times we need to be there for each other just as friends. 

Trust me, emotions and feelings will always spill over on either side. But by separating feedback into business talk and friend talk, you are setting yourself up for success. 

Any relationship is going to have conflict. You are going to disagree on methods and processes. You’ll even probably disagree on the office coffee maker color. 

For instance, I can decide to knock off at 16:00, because I have a kid and I need to get home. Jennie on the other hand can say “Okay, wow, son, I really need to get this done, I may need your help doing it.” 

That’s because we are different people with different priorities. 

However, we have figured out that through conversations wearing the biz hat or the friend hat, we can find a solution. 

For instance, Jennie works later than I do. She sleeps later than I do. So she handles late business while I work with morning and afternoon issues. 

It works. 

It only works because we are willing to have honest conversations. We are willing to separate being friends and being business partners. 

Maybe it’s time you and your buddy set up shop 

Frankly, going into business with a friend is a really great way to get things done. Without Jennie, I wouldn’t have this podcast. 

Having a partner to do things with you to hold you accountable to fill in your own skill or zone of genius gaps is incredible.

And like I said, there are different ways that you can set this business up. Julie and I had a fulltime business. Jennie and I still maintain our own separate businesses, although we partner a lot. 

Working with a friend is not for everyone. But it can be done, and there are many ways of pulling it off. 

Do you have any words of wisdom to share, or do you profoundly disagree with something I said and want to let me know? I’m all ears! Comment below and let’s talk about it.

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