Guest blog by M David Cottrell
Owner of Cottrell Consults
As a seasoned business strategist and consultant, I have too often seen some negative effects of mixing business with pleasure. Some people continuously, despite the odds, continue to engage in these situations regardless of the probable outcome. After all, it is easy to jump into business in various forms with friends, acquaintances from your social network, or probably the most detrimental, people recommended to you through that same network where you, out of haste or laziness, don’t perform any due diligence in advance.
The primary reason friends go into business together is out of emotion or haste, without properly sitting down and discussing the fundamental personality issues that may come between the partners. Friends just jump into business and then make it up as they go along, then assume that things will work out and somehow automatically fall into place. The partnership is started over a social catalyst or impulse, and then as the venture evolves, differences rise to the surface and the conflict begins.
Despite the odds and numerous stories surrounding the subject matter, there are some proven success stories where friends come together and build very successful enterprises. Let’s take a look at some of the more successful characteristics of friendships that lend themselves to business success stories.
1. You share the same fundamental passions. Your mindset on what the concept for the enterprise is united, and you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. There is an agreement of how to proceed with the basic fundamental concepts and where each of your roles comes into play, and where additional expertise is needed to be retained. You understand that there is something to be learned in the process through the retention of expertise. There is a delegation of responsibilities to each partner, and the other partner does not intervene or interfere in those eventual outcomes. You will not always agree every time, and there will be disagreement between the partners, but the discussions are seldom public, and there is an honest communication between the parties and acceptance of the opinion. If you are a friend referring expertise to another, there is a deliberate thought process involved based upon prior experience before any referral is extended.
2. The friendship is solid. You share a visceral respect for each other. You share a healthy complementary ego and share a genuine support of each other’s well-being. Some refer to this as a marriage; I do not, as I believe it is deeper friendship that will see each partner evolve through more than one personal relationship, alter lifestyles, and change together with the times. You recognize that this will take effort on your part, which you may not always like, but you accept each other’s individuality. The partners seldom compete against each other, but spar often to promote ideas and the advancement of the enterprise. Egos are in check, and personal previous economic success or family background does not matter. There is support for each other in good times and in bad times, which includes any personal crisis that may arise along the way.
3. You share the same work ethic. I, as have many through the centuries, never refer to something you love as hard work. A passion may be all-consuming, but if you truly enjoy what you do, it’s never hard, long hours and intense efforts notwithstanding. All parties in the group share in the same work ethic that is needed to build and grow the enterprise. You don’t mind spending a considerable amount of time together, and there is an encouragement to put in those long hours to incubate the concepts and ideas into a successful business. One covers for the other when a vacation is needed and allows space for the other to rest and regenerate.
Check back tomorrow for reasons why most friendship-infused businesses fail.
M David Cottrell is a strategic advisor to principals and businesses with more than 30 years of experience. He combines an innate perceptive business foresight with pragmatic systemic strategies. Identifying clients’ gifts, direction and best offerings, Dave propels businesses toward choice pathways to fulfill objectives while managing peripheral impacts. For more information, visit him on the web at www.cottrellconsults.com or on Twitter @mdavidcottrell.