There is an opinion that business and money can ruin even best friendship. When you cooperate with your friends or relatives, it is indeed too hard to decide which course you should follow — the one based on business standards or the other based on moral principles.
In my life, I’ve had a chance to try both office and freelance work. My experience taught me 2 things: think twice when you hire a friend (or become your friend’s service provider) and never ever become friends with your boss. Perhaps it would seem straight-out to you, but believe me, I have grounds for deciding this.
I would define 4 reasons not to mix friendship and business no matter who you are — an outsourcer or a service provider:
- It is always harder to criticize a friend because you may be afraid of hurting his/her feelings. As a result, you are not satisfied with your cooperation but you cannot say why explicitly.
- The other side of the story is inability to perceive criticism. It is easier to hear complaints or negative feedback from an ordinary client or employer. If they are groundless, you just forget and move on. If they are reasonable, you draw conclusions and try to correct the situation. When you hear the same from your friend or relative, any negative comment may seem ruder than it is. In the worst case scenario it may end up breaking the relations.
- Trivial financial issue. There are different views on financial relations between friends. Some think that there shouldn’t be any distinctions when it comes to rates, terms, discounts, etc. The others are sure that friendship means special cooperation conditions.
Let me give you a few examples. Today Internet and social media are opening a lot of opportunities for small businesses. Many of my school friends or former colleagues have found their vocation in various services: cookery or event management, make-up or hairdressing, cabinetry or decorating. From time to time I use their services and it is much more pleasant to pay money for a good product to a friend. It is also a pleasure when some of them offer a discount just because of kind relations. However, I never expect a discount and don’t feel myself having a right to take it ill if I am offered a regular price. Their business is their bread and butter just like my translation and voice-over for my family. So what’s the reason to be offended? In case I consider the quote too high, I would just decline the offer delicately. Anyway, no business is worth good fellowship.
- Betrayal hurts much more when it comes from a friend. You may object: what’s the point in a friendship where betrayal is possible? Still, one has to agree that business collaboration is a risk factor, and aside from losing a friend you may also lose money or clients.
If these reasons do not stop you from mixing business and relations, the following tips may help you to avoid some problems:
- Give this idea a good deal of thought. Estimate your and your friend’s expectations: they shouldn’t be overstated.
- Think over your price policy from the start if you are going to be a service or product vendor for your friend. It’s one thing to offer a discount once, but when your cooperation is going to last for a long time, you should remember: low price will kill your motivation sooner or later.
- Don’t promise too much especially if you cannot guarantee it. Clearly present your terms and conditions. Ideally, they should be impersonal, based on professional qualities exclusively.
- Avoid cooperation if your friend’s skills don’t match your requirements or business principles. Otherwise there are 2 case scenarios:
– excessive criticism which affects even best relations;
– silencing of problems, correcting mistakes, and as a result — dissatisfaction, quarrels, breach in relations.
- Probably the most effective tip — listen to your intuition. If you have doubts about reasonability of your business cooperation with a friend, just don’t do it! It would be better if you never reveal some qualities of your friend and never test your friendship to the limit.
All in all, it’s always up to you which way to choose. No doubt, there are a lot of positive examples, but don’t forget about negative ones too. Anyway it is always better to learn from the mistakes of others, than from your own painful experience.