Many people are reluctant to go into business with friends or family, because if things go pear-shaped, not only do you lose the business, chances are you’ll lose your relationship too. But there are some benefits to partnering up with people close to you.
Mornay Vivier, managing director of business consulting company MetaPerformance, says working with someone you’ve known for a while means you know what kind of person they are.
“You already know what values you’re dealing with. There shouldn’t be any surprises in terms of who the person is.”
Still, there are several considerations you need to be aware of before diving into a partnership with a friend or close family member. According to Vivier, the most important thing is to make sure you’re both clear on why you’ve started the business. Money, he says, should not be the starting point.
“If you’re starting the business purely for money, you’re probably going to fight,” he says. “Money will become your main point of contention when things go pear-shaped. You need to be very clear on what your purpose is, like making a difference or eradicating wrongs, or aggressive transformation – those are proper reasons to start a business.”
Having a common set of core values will also go a long way in ensuring that the business is a success, he explains. This means having a conversation about the management structure and how you plan on running the business in a way that will inspire and motivate everyone involved.
“Is it an inclusive organisation or is it autocratic? Is it a top-down hierarchical structure, or do you involve staff in decision-making?” These are important questions to ask, Vivier says.
You also need to make sure you’re able to separate your personal relationship from the business, particularly if your spouse is your business partner.
“You can’t go home and continue to have work discussions because it will put strain on your relationship. When you knock off, don’t continue to talk about your business, otherwise it becomes all-consuming,” he says.
When conflict does arise, Vivier says it’s important to remind yourselves of the core values.
“If things do go pear-shaped, remind yourself why you started the business. It’s like a marriage – you got married for a particular reason and that’s the same with business.”