Help! I Need Somebody . . . Not Just Anybody

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq., owner of Ask The Business Lawyer, is an award-winning business attorney, speaker, and Entrepreneur Magazine online contributor. She saves consulting and professional services companies time, money, and aggravation by serving as their outsourced legal counsel.

Posted on August 20, 2011 in Business Partners

Well if this just isn’t the week for Beatles songs!  Justin Knowacki has a post on getting by (or not) by doing business with friends, which brings up an excellent subject:  should your friends (or family, for that matter) become your business partners?

The short and obvious answer is . . . it depends.

As Justin points out, “[i]t’s a tough situation to work closely with friends because the lines between casual and professional interaction — and expectations — can become fuzzy.”  People take a lot for granted when they work with friends or family.  There’s an expectation that they “get” you — that they understand what you’re going through as an entrepreneur and will support you 100%.  That may have been the case when they were a casual observer of your business, but once they’re part of the business, any number of issues can crop up where your interests diverge.  Like how you’re spending money.  Or, the direction in which you’re taking the company.  Or, the kinds of clients/customers you want to take on.  All of  sudden, your #1 fan is your #1 critic.

In considering whether to add friends or family members as business partners, it’s best to be as dispassionate as possible.  Ask yourself:  do they have the skills or connections the business needs to grow?  If the answer is “no,” that’s the end of the inquiry.  Do not make excuses because of the personal relationship.  And don’t be overly-enticed by the prospect of money/capital infusion from a friend or family member either.  It’s often tougher to have those “hard conversations” about the business and performance with people who are close to you than with relative (no pun intended) strangers.

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