Working with Friends
It’s six o’clock on a Friday afternoon and I am waiting impatiently for the launch of my newly renovated website. The site was actually supposed to go live two weeks ago, but then my Web designer took off for a last-minute family vacation to the Bahamas, so we had to push it back. I know what you’re thinking: What I need is a new Web designer. That may be true. What’s also true, though, is that my current designer also happens to be one of my best friends. And since I know how much she needed a vacation, what was I supposed to do?
There are certainly benefits to working with your friends, if you know where your boundaries lie. Before you hire your BFF to be your CEO, follow these tips, so your business—and your friendship—doesn’t go belly up.
Be clear about your expectations. When you hire a friend to do a project, be very detailed about what you want—and when you expect it to be done by—from the start. Chances are your friendship hasn’t included a business element until this point, so it’s important to remove all feelings from your negotiations. (You don’t want to cut her out of your life over a difference of $20.) Make sure both parties agree to everything before going forward.
Remember that you get what you pay for. If you ask a friend to do work for you for free, you essentially take away your power to get the product you desire. My advice is to pay for the service. If she’s doing it gratis, your project will likely take a backseat to those she’s actually making money off of. Also, beware of trading services. While she may offer to reorganize your closet in exchange for you writing press releases for her company, you may not need her services. If this is the case, let her know that you prefer to receive monetary payment for any work you do for her.
Don’t be afraid to decline. If you think your friendship is going to suffer over a project or service, tell your friend you’re just not comfortable mixing business with pleasure. Then refer her to a vendor you trust. Keep in mind that many professions pay commission for referrals, so let your friend know that in addition to salvaging your friendship, she’d also be helping you make a few bucks.