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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 April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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