Yes, it is possible to remain friends with your business partner and build a relationship that yields greater success.
However, like all good partnerships, it is imperative to nurture your relationship by considering several crucial areas that can make or break your friendship and business growth:
- Work towards clear goals
- Define business roles and friendship dynamics
- Develop and grow with each other
- Create a mindful relationship built on honesty and trust
- Review progress and keep communicating
- Nurture your relationship in and out of work
So let’s look at those in more detail.
Work toward clear idealistic goals
When you create a company with a friend, having an idealistic but flexible plan of the future is crucial.
Elon Musk is a good example – one of his goals is to
When you’re partnered-up, your vision needs to be perfectly aligned.
If one partner has a dream of building a business inside Dubai, while another secretly
Of course, things can change, and the aspirations of all concerned can evolve over time. So re-evaluate regularly.
Define business roles and friendship dynamics
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, of Apple fame, are a great example of a successful startup between friends. But their business relationship is also an excellent case study of how to create harmony between yourself and your partner.
Wozniak was an electronics genius, while Jobs had a head for marketing. Some reports suggest the pair used to have their fair share of disagreements, but Wozniak commented in 2014 that despite different personalities, they were always friends.
Like Jobs and Wozniak, you and your partner may have distinctly different personalities, skills, and strengths. One of you may work best from a quiet private office, while the other might thrive in a hub community.
These differences can make things tricky, without effective communication.
The big profits can start to roll in, and it’s easy to start feeling like one partner isn’t pulling their weight.
This makes it imperative to set clear boundaries on work responsibilities and duties.
If you both have your own areas of ownership, you will avoid overstepping. This way you will both have measurable tasks to complete individually and can be held accountable.
Develop and grow with each other
Encouraging personal growth and skill development is likely to benefit your business friendship.
The Journal of Happiness suggests that learning something new that is ‘self-selected’ may be particularly beneficial when it comes to happiness and competency.
It’s important to stress the point that you should try and encourage your colleague to master a new skill based on their own curiosity, rather than forcing them to do something.
Ultimately, if both you and your friend embrace the idea of life-long development, and understanding the mechanics behind self-selected learning, then you’ll strengthen your trust in each other while driving your business forward. Assuming you’re both aligned with success, each of you will innately choose to learn things that benefit your company.
Create a mindful relationship built on honesty and trust
While you don’t have to go to extreme levels such as Twitter’s co-founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey’s 10-day stint at a silent meditation retreat, you may find a 10-20 minute meditation session helpful.
Research by leading US workforce consultants, Life Meets Work, has confirmed what entrepreneurs already know: If you are a stressed leader, it is felt by everyone in your company – including those you value as friends.
Mindfulness can give you more hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and resilience, which are vital for good relationships.
Review progress and keep communicating
Being extremely honest, sharing ideas, and being open to change are all tools that will stand your business friendship in good stead.
While one-to-one meetings may suit you if you’re firm friends, it can also be useful to include another colleague to act as a mediator and give you both honest and constructive feedback.
Nurture your relationship in and out of work
It’s hard for entrepreneurs to take time off from work, but research suggests that the success of our companies depends on it. It provides detachment that helps to prevent burnout.
This includes carefully thinking about time on and off from your friend, both in the workplace and externally.
It is vital to find ways to switch off from work and enjoy downtime with your friend. At the same time, we all need time alone within any relationship, so consider how much breathing space you need both at work and externally.
Many entrepreneurs create companies with people they consider to be friends. Equally, strong bonds can form between partners who start out as mere business acquaintances. Although the challenge can be a test, by actively working on your relationship you can remain friends with your business partner and potentially build a bond that yields greater success.
Steve Mayne | Managing Partner – CREATIVE ZONE
Steve Mayne is a founding Managing Partner of CREATIVE ZONE – Dubai’s largest company formation firm, established in 2010. He brings more than 26 years of experience in sales, business consultancy, corporate leadership, and entrepreneurship to his many commercial and community endeavors.
He has also worked with a number of global