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15 Reasons Why You Should Not Start Businesses with Friends

15 Reasons Why You Should Not Start Businesses with Friends

In the wake of the great recession, a generation of so-called ‘accidental entrepreneurs’ emerged and revolutionized the small business environment. This has triggered a gradual evolution in the workplace, which may result in an estimated 40% of the U.S. workforce alone being self-employed by the year 2020. Alongside the age of technological advancement, the changing economic landscape has made it easier than ever for friends and family to launch business ventures with minimal experience and financial resources.

However, just because people have the resources to launch a business does not mean that they should. Despite innovation and increased accessibility, the worlds of commerce and industry remain extremely difficult to conquer. From fluctuating financial markets and unique commodities such as gold to industry competition, there are multiple factors that can undermine a fledgling business and ruin a pre-existing relationship between friends and family members.

With this in mind, here are 15 compelling reasons why you should avoid starting a business with friends and family members: –

1. Friendship Does Not Translate into Business Compatibility

When starting a business venture with a friend or beloved family member, it is tempting to believe that your existing relationship will easily translate into a successful commercial union.

This is rarely the case, however, as even people with similar values and philosophies may not share the same approach to completing various business tasks. This can create significant conflict when establishing a business model or cultivating a company culture, which in turn has the potential to undermine even the most durable of relationships.

2. Friends and Family Rarely Plan for Worst Case Scenarios

U.S. attorney Mark J. Kohler specialises in disputes which unfold between friends and family members who have unsuccessfully attempted to launch a business. His advice is therefore extremely worthwhile, and he identifies one of the key issues is a lack of communication between aspiring business partners.

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More specifically, he advises friends and family members to consider all potential worst-case scenarios in detail before making a fixed commitment, so that they can develop viable contingency plans and prepare their friendship in the event of failure.

3. It Can be Difficult to Create Clearly Defined Business roles

The majority of friendships are formed organically, which means that there are no predetermined roles or structural hierarchies. The same cannot be said for business partnerships, which are forged by choice and constructed to include individual roles and responsibilities. This almost always requires one partner to take an authoritative, leading role, which can create imbalance in an existing friendship and ultimately cause unrest.

There may be a tendency among friends and family members to avoid this entirely, but this may expose the business to a critical lack of leadership.

4. Your Business Goals May Differ from Those of Your Partner

On a similar note, your motivation for launching a business may differ to that of your friend or family member. For example, while you may aim to realize the long-term goal of launching a successful business, your partner may want nothing more than to earn some additional money to supplement their existing income. This is entirely opposed to the foundation of commercial partnerships, which should be formed from a common goal and fixed business aspirations.

Such a gap in expectations can be devastating, as it can trigger arguments, undermine business growth and compromise friendships.

5. The Price of Failure is Far Higher

According to industry statistics and successful entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, an estimated 50% of all small businesses fail during their first 24 months of trading. Such failure often comes at a considerable cost to small-business owners, although this is often restricted to financial losses.

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For those who partner with a friend or family member, however, the failure of a business venture can create a strain that even established relationships are unable to cope with. This means that the cost of failure is even higher, as it can compromise both your personal and professional lives.

6. Financial Arrangements and Friendships Make for Uneasy Bed fellows

There is an old adage which suggests that you should never lend friends or family members’ money, and the same principle can be applied to launching a business venture. This is because each partner may be required to invest some of their personal capital into funding the venture, which in turn creates a financial arrangement that binds two friends in a legal contract. The issue with this is obvious, as a single act of negligence or irresponsible behavior by one individual can impact heavily on their partner.

If you consider the financial cost of successful personal injury claims that arise as a result of carelessness, for example, it is easy to see why friends should avoid funding a joint business venture.

7. You May Struggle to Plan Holiday’s and Breaks Away

Whenever you start an independent business with a beloved family member, you are placing an incredible strain on both your personal and professional time. Booking holidays or breaks away together in the sun can be particularly difficult, as this may expose your business to a lack of leadership at a critical juncture. Unless you have a trusted employee who can hold the ford and lead strategically in your absence, you may need to stagger your holidays and take separate breaks.

8. You Will Place a Huge Strain on Your Finances

While there are many reasons that you may choose to launch a business venture with a partner, benefiting from an influx of capital is one of the most prominent.

The cost of establishing a business can be considerable, so it is natural to share this financial burden with a trusted partner who can also add experience, strength and leadership. Starting a business with an immediate family member is an entirely different entity, however, as you may be drawing capital from a more restricted source and placing a greater strain on your finances.

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9. Friends and Family Business Ventures Usually Lack Expertise

Aside from the ability to provide an initial investment, a carefully selected, independent business partner can also bring considerable expertise and experience to your venture. You may need to compromise on this when partnering with a friend or family member, however, as there is a limited share of equity and it is important to retain the incentive to succeed. By sacrificing invaluable business knowledge, you could enter the marketplace without the necessary tools to succeed.

10. Emotions Can Often Override Good Business Sense

While the national divorce rate in the UK is set to decline thanks partially to the dwindling popularity of marriage, it is still estimated that 42% of all marital unions will end in divorce. This underlines the challenges facing married couples in 2015, especially when you consider the financial pressures caused by rising property prices and stagnating earnings.

The same principle can be applied to familiar business partners who are emotionally invested in one another, as periods of hardship can damage the relationship and cause both parties to act irrationally. It is therefore easy for emotions to override sound business sense, and this can quickly sound the death knell for any commercial venture.

11. It Can be Hard to Appraise Your Partner’s Performance

While honesty should be the bedrock for any successful and meaningful friendship, it can be hard to administer a frank and withering appraisal of those closest to you.

According to Wayne Rivers, who is the President of the Family Business Institute, this can cause a significant issue when friends and family members partner in business. More specifically, it often leaves faults unaddressed and causes operational issues to continue longer than they should. While third party assessments can be sourced and paid for, the potential impact of negative criticism can still damage existing relationships.

12. Relationship Breakdowns can Divide Entire Families and Friendship Groups

While we have discussed the impact that a failed business can have on the relationship between friends and family members, it is important to consider the consequences once conflict has begun to take hold. The fall-out between two family members or close friends can trigger huge divides, and cause even the tightest-knit of groups to splinter and form rival factions. This can lead to an ongoing and acrimonious dispute that involves multiple parties, while leaving a family or friendship group in tatters.

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13. Relationships Can Suffer Even When the Business Venture Succeeds

Entrepreneur and Moz founder Rand Fishkin has some interesting opinions on the partnership of friends or family members in a business environment. He claims that while relationships are likely to suffer under the pressure of a failing business, there is also a strong possibility that they will also crumble if a venture proves to be successful. After all, the relentless pursuit of success can take its toll in a competitive market, and attainment can also change each individual’s outlook and create distance within a relationship.

14. Changing Circumstances can upset the Equilibrium of any Partnership

Over time, the market that your business operates in can change significantly. So too can your personal and financial circumstances, meaning that new challenges must be met with a flexible and suitable response. This can create significant inequity within a relationship, however, especially if one partner is suddenly forced to carry greater responsibility without reward.

If a business requires additional investment but one member of the partnership has fallen on hard times, for example, the other will need to fulfill this financial commitment without gaining any additional equity. This can cause considerable resentment and create a huge divide between once close allies.

15. The Business May Not Always be a Priority

Similarly, changing personal circumstances can alter our priorities and force us to spread our time more thinly. The advent of marriage or parenthood consumes a great deal of time, making it far harder to prioritize a business venture that has already been established with a friend or family member. Even if two partners have entered into an agreement with the same outlook and goals, these can quickly change in the face or rearranged priorities.

This situation can also occur gradually over time, leaving businesses exposed and left to decline without direct action being taken.

Featured photo credit: Paul Inckles / Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

17 Versatile Work Skills That Will Gain You More Career Opportunities

17 Versatile Work Skills That Will Gain You More Career Opportunities

When we look at a job advertisement, it can seem as though employers want an exhaustive list of experience and technical skills from their new hire.

They list desirable qualities such as ‘initiative’, ‘team player’ and ‘strong work ethic’. Those words can mean a variety of things to different people and it can be quite hard for employers to illustrate fully the combination of technical and soft skills they want their potential employees to have.

What they often want is a mix of versatile skills that make it easy for them (and you) to adapt to the changing needs and demands which occur in businesses today.

After all, adaptability and innovation are what make businesses thrive.

In today’s ever-changing environment, versatility is a mandatory attitude every working person needs to have. With the following seventeen work skills, you will not only make your employer extremely happy and confident that hiring you was their best decision, you will experience greater personal satisfaction and results.

1. Know What You Want but More so Why You Want It

Employers need to sense you have a solid idea as to why you are a fit for their role and their organization. They need to sense you have your own sense of purpose.

However, it can be a double-edged sword to say you know exactly what you want to achieve and gain if you are successful in your application and interview.

Some employers can perceive this as arrogance; your needs first, theirs second. What employers are really looking for is your internal sense of knowing that potential to join their organization is a winning combination for both of you.

2. Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution Skills Save Money, Lost Productivity and Efficiency

Can you agree to disagree? Can you evaluate without passing judgment or at least be self-aware of your own biases? Can you put these aside to find solutions for the betterment of the team?

Employers look for versatility in soft work skills that bring peace, lower stress and contribute to creating harmony. If you have ways with words to help heated arguments reduce to a simmer so there is space for compromises, negotiations and reasoning to take place your employers’ respect for you will jump at least tenfold.

Peace-making skills are invaluable in changing workplace culture, particularly toxic ones. Any good employer knows a strong in-house negotiator will save them thousands of dollars in engaging an external mediator.

3. Know How to Set and Reframe Your Own Goals

Much research has documented that when employees have a clear purpose, mission and goals, they are more likely to be highly productive. They are less likely to flounder around in many directions nor be busy and not produce results that matter.

Employers know well that employees who develop their own goals and can align these with those of the company are more self-driven, self-sufficient and take greater ownership for performing their role.

And the benefit is not only to the employers. You personally will find greater personal satisfaction from achieving targets you have chosen to set yourself. Everyone wins!

4. Great Time Management and Organization Skills Make You Highly Productive

Being able to exercise versatility with these work skills needs no explanation. Great time management does not mean multi-tasking. It actually uses more brain power and reduces effectiveness.

Having great skills to prioritize your activities and demands, being able to assess how long things might take you to address are planning skills which greatly aid effective and better execution.

Working in harmony with your colleagues’ timetables makes for better teamwork and workflow plus a less stressed environment.

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In today’s working world, any strategies for reducing stress-invoking opportunities are like finding golden nuggets. Your employer will want to hold on to those for dear life!

5. Be a Flexible Team Player by Being Able to Change Roles When Required

Employers will be looking to see how flexible a team player, a potential employee could be.

If you are a natural leader, being a better team player might, in fact, mean you stepping down from the helm and encouraging someone else to exercise and step into their leadership potential.

It might be more beneficial to your employer to play the role of Indian as opposed to the Chief in certain situations. Stepping into different positions on your team not only helps you grow but also the rest of your team.

Employers relish having a versatile work team which can adapt and is ready and willing to play different roles, even if uncomfortable when crises happen.

6. Initiative, Self-Motivated and Driven

When you have your own internal reasons for looking to undertake a role your motivation is driven by something sizzling inside of you.

There is a personal drive and desire for the satisfaction you will experience when you meet a certain target that no other person will be able to give to you.

When you can genuinely identify and demonstrate your own personal connection to the role’s objectives and the greater goals of your employer’s business, they will see you have an internal drive that they don’t need to whip and flog to keep the momentum going.

Any employer will be grateful they just need to help navigate you and support you with the right tools and network and off you go.

7. Be Confident but Not Arrogant

Imagine if you were conducting initial telephone interviews with shortlisted candidates and one of the questions they asked was:

“How long would it be until I’ll be eligible for a pay rise or promotion?”

There is a significant difference between being confident and arrogant. Employers are not looking for confidence purely in you being able to perform every aspect of your role at gold star level.

It comes with being comfortable to say you don’t understand, you have made a mistake, you need support, further training, acknowledging what your limits are and being willing to risk stepping outside your comfort zone.

When you’re a new kid on the block, respecting that you may need to learn to walk before you can run is essential. Unless it is your job to start making significant changes from day one, chances are you’re going to create enemies if you’re so confident your new methods and ideas should replace existing processes.

8. A Positive Attitude

Demonstrating positivity as a work skill that will truly win over your new employer is about being genuine and actively applying strategies which look for the glass half full.

Recruiters and employers are not dumb. They can easily see through short-term bright smiles, nervous giggling and general ‘you just need to think positive’ statements.

In the face of grueling challenges, employers are going to look much more favorably on that candidate who can acknowledge the negative features of a situation but still encourage another solution-focused perspective to be adopted.

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Even better, if you can use language effectively to demonstrate how you have adopted a positive perspective and helped turned around a tough situation.

It is one thing to have a positive attitude but your potential employer will see you as a superhero if you can show them how you have successfully applied it.

Take a look at these tips to learn more about staying positive:

10 Tips To Make Positive Thinking Easy

9. You Are Resourceful but Know the Value of Asking for Help

There is nothing more unproductive (let alone frustrating) than that person who simply asks out loud a question to their team when they could simply have Googled the answer.

Or worse still, they have a manual at their fingertips which has the answer to their question…they were simply too lazy to look for themselves.

Be that person with Sherlock Holmes as their middle name who sleuths like a dog after a buried bone. You can research and turn over stones to discover and learn what you need but you also are able to ask for help and assistance when you need to.

Any employer will relish that person who looks to discover the answers to their own questions first before reaching out and asking for help.

Hesitate to ask for help? This article may just change your mind:

Afraid to Ask for Help? Change Your Outlook to Aim High!

10. Emotional Intelligence Creates a Harmonious Workflow

Despite the level of seniority of your role having a strong ability to handle emotions is fast becoming an essential work skill (and also life skill).

It is even more desirable for any employer when your work skill set includes the ability to detect, adapt to and have skills in managing certain emotional patterns of others you need to work with, manage or report to.

So much time, energy and productivity is lost due to individuals’ lack of skills in this area. Any manager who can see you possess and can demonstrate such versatile work skills will think they’ve won the managerial lottery!

You can learn how to improve your Emotional Intelligence from this article:

7 Practical Ways To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

11. Be Able to Adapt Your Learning Style

There is no real evidence that using preferred learning styles actually increase the rate at which we learn nor the effectiveness of certain styles.

However, being able to make changes to what we are given to learn and adapting it to suit our needs and preferences does help us settle into a new work transition sooner.

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We also need to recognize that even though we feel uncomfortable learning a new skill a certain way, it might actually be the way we need to receive it to cement the learning. It is also likely that our new employer only knows or has a budget to deliver training in a certain way.

Either we can choose to adapt or resist but we know for sure the latter is not going to benefit to anyone.

Want to find out what your learning style is? Take this quiz:

How This Learning Style Quiz Can Help You Make the Most of Your Life

12. Flexible Leadership Style

Dan Goleman has conducted extensive research on different leadership styles, emphasizing that being versatile to switch between different styles (e.g. authoritative, coaching, affiliate, coercive, pace-setting) and knowing when to do is a fundamental skill for any leader.

Being able to change your style to lead other people is as important as how you lead your own role responsibilities.

If you want to be a better leader, these books are great resources:

15 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read To Achieve Success

13. Incredible Communication Skills That Actively Listen and Give Clear Messages

Strong and effective communication across all mediums takes time, life experience and highly developed intuition.

Knowing when to use email, a face to face conversation or telephone discussion is one thing. Another is to use words which emotionally connect and influence the receiver to accept, hear and heed your message.

Great communicators know that it is their responsibility as much as the receiver for good communication to take place. However, they also know that the receiver may not feel this is the case.

When you can listen equally, be sensitive to read between the lines to hear the message of ineffective communicators and can respond kindly with inspiring, equalizing and encouraging words, your influence and general likeability as a new addition to your employer’s team will develop in leaps and bounds.

These books are also nice resources to learn effective communication:

13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships

14. Accountable, Responsible and Dependable

We’ve all worked with people or managers at some point who lay external blame the instance something goes wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, making mistakes and owning up to it is a highly desirable and versatile work skill that gains loyalty and understanding particularly when mistakes occur.

Owning up to errors early allows both yourself and the business to recover quickly and shows you’re willing to take responsibility to continue forward on when you have stumbled.

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When you illustrate you can do this, you build your employer’s trust and faith in you.

15. Exercise Proactive Self-Awareness

Self-reflection is a highly empowering work skill that contributes greatly to becoming better and performing better.

When you actively look for the achievement, celebrate your success and look for pockets of where mistakes you have made can be corrected you improve faster, become more effective and make your work easier.

When you start to look at your own errors, receiving feedback from your employer about the same errors can feel far less confronting and having corrective conversations is easier, transparent and far less stressful and emotional.

You naturally increase your resilience and make life easier for yourself and your employer if you conduct regular self-check-ins and keep your employer updated.

Here’s how to practice self-awareness:

How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

16. Apply a Problem-Solving Growth Mindset

When faced with a problem or challenge, your ability to activate a growth mindset is a highly versatile work skill employers love. Not only are you able to reduce the pain and anguish that a fixed mindset can sustain but your ability to remain open to possibilities to find different pathways or ideas is refreshing and helpful.

If your thought patterns automatically ask: “How can we?” or you often think “there must be a way”, you will only contribute to creating growth opportunities for your organization and inspire others to think the same way.

Learn more about developing a growth mindset here:

5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

17. Be Teachable

If you have ever tried to teach someone a new skill or technique and they keep reverting back to traditional ways that are familiar to them, you might have become frustrated to the point of giving up.

Don’t be that person who’s stuck in tradition which no longer serves the business. Whether you are entering a new environment, learning new software or negotiation skills, know that all employers need people who are open to being taught.

Innovation is a core concern of every business. Innovation means change and change means doing something different.

Stay Versatile and Keep Learning

Technical skills can often be taught. Ray Croc illustrated how well a systemized franchise can dominate the planet. Over 36,000 McDonald’s establishments around the world are run by managers barely in their twenties!

Soft work skills, however, take time to develop, learn and confidently apply.

There is a key combination of work skills that would make any candidate employer’s dream. However, the essential factor underlying all of these work skills is versatility.

Equip yourself with these 17 work skills, stay curious and keep learning; and you’ll always nail the job you want.

More Resources About Career Success

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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