Friendpreneurs: How to Find Success, Preserve Relationships

Shared vision, understanding can lead to good partnerships

one of our homes, we have a strategizing session outside of the office,” says Hill, who recently co-authored You Buy the Peanut Butter, I’ll Get the Bread: The Absolutely True Adventures of Best Friends In Business (Penguin Group; Feb. 2009) with Warren. “This way we can map out our goals and plans for the future and bounce ideas off another without the distractions of the office.”

Talk money. “Figure out what each person is bringing to the table.” Perry says. “Will each invest money, or does one have the contacts and skills?”  For dentist Smith, discussing finances with his partner was easier, he says, because of their friendship.  “Having a business-first attitude allows us to prioritize the money conversations around that in a team effort,” he adds. “Put it all on the table, from how much money you have in the bank, credit history, family plans, expected income, etc. Don’t let friendship cloud your mind when making business decisions.”

Make it legal. “Devise a solid business plan and agree to a contract,” Brown says. “If there is no initial shareholder agreement and decisions are made on the fly and are inconsistent, this leads to chaos and instability.”

Merge. “Sometimes the best business partnerships with friends develop from businesses that merge,” Perry says. That’s what restaurateurs Joseph Dowell and William Parks discovered. Parks opened Mamma Nems.com in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 2006. Dowell meanwhile operated his own restaurant in New Orleans until it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. When Parks, who had no prior no restaurant experience, found himself overwhelmed with running the business, his longtime friend Dowell came onboard as an equal partner.  “I knew my financial investment would go much further in a restaurant that was already up and running verses opening a new one,” says Dowell on his decision to join Mamma Nems. “William and I share similar core values that keep the business strong and on a vision and the basic principles on how to get there.”

Friend time. In the office, Dowell says it’s important to put business first. “The friendship is separate from how you provide for your family,” he says. Hill and Warren also find while it’s a good idea to give each other space, they make time to socialize as friends outside of work. “At the end of the day, we are still friends. There’s Kirsten my business partner and Kirsten my friend.”

Conflicts and resolution. Emotions can run high when you are in business with a friend. To mount these hurdles, have a plan, Brown says. “Identify the dispute resolution methodology (i.e. Will a third identified person come in and help you solve personal and business disputes?) Decide how you will maintain the friendship if the business doesn’t go well or the business if the friendship doesn’t. Document a “prenuptial scenario agreement. If x happens, this is what will we do,” Brown advises. Compromising is also important, says Noelle-Elaine Media’s Hill. “Renee and I have always been open and honest with each other and that honesty

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  • Alicia

    Excellent tips! BE, thanks for helping your readers kick off the new year in a positive and enlightening way!

  • Frankie Turner

    Please email me a site to go to for startup help for my small business. Do have any on line workshops to view? mobile 407-443-2193.

  • Kimberli Meadows

    This is inspiring. I admire your work. Your articles seem to address all of my concerns as the head of BDG PR, a media relations, event management and production firm.

  • Kimberli Meadows

    Thank you.

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