Starting a business is never easy, and teaming up with a friend may seem like a recipe for success, but it comes with its own set of challenges. There’s a right way and a not-so-right way to go about it. When you start a business with a friend, your relationship dynamics undergo a transformation. In the workplace, your interactions take on a more formal tone compared to the casual atmosphere you enjoy when spending time together outside of work.
Ensuring that your close personal bond doesn’t lead to careless business practices is essential. Emotions can run high when entering into a business with a friend, or anyone for that matter. However, maintaining emotional control is vital for running your business professionally, even when your friend may be contributing to those emotional triggers.
Nevertheless, starting a business with a friend can certainly be a successful endeavour. You just need to keep a few best practices in mind. Let’s explore the dos and don’ts of starting a business with a friend to help you navigate this entrepreneurial journey effectively.
- Communicate often. Open and honest communication is crucial. Even though you may know each other well, don’t assume that you’re always on the same page. Clear and frequent communication helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures everyone is aligned.
- Establish clear roles. Define job titles and responsibilities right from the start. This clarity will help your business run smoothly and reduce the risk of conflicts or confusion as your venture grows.
- Put your business plan in writing. A formal business plan is essential as it provides a roadmap for your business’s future and serves as a reference point for both partners.
- Don’t partner just because you like each other. Being friends doesn’t automatically make you compatible as business partners. Before diving into a business venture, carefully evaluate whether you share the same goals and work well together professionally.
- Don’t assume shared commitment. Make sure you and your friend are in complete agreement regarding your business goals and commitments. Understand the level of time and effort each of you can dedicate to the business.
- Don’t mix personal and business matters. Separation between personal and business lives is essential. Use separate channels for personal and business communications to avoid confusion and emotional entanglement. Maintain boundaries and respect the sanctity of your personal relationship.
- Don’t let business overrule friendship. While running a business with a friend can change your relationship dynamics, always prioritize your friendship. Plan for potential business challenges and have an exit strategy in place to ensure your friendship remains intact, no matter what happens to the business.
From a young age, Cameroonian entrepreneur and Anzisha Prize Fellow Sergio Tabe Ashu embarked on his entrepreneurial journey. Driven by the need to fund his education and his growing entrepreneurial spirit, he co-founded Excel Academy. This educational venture offers private home tutoring for K-12 students and national exam preparation classes.
“We actually met on campus. He has been my friend since my second year of university. we’ve been collaborating, and he has been of great help to me both in and out of business.”Sergio Tabe Ashu
A key factor in Excel Academy’s remarkable success is Sergio’s partnership with co-founder Njinwi Lonko, who also serves as the HR Manager within the company. Their partnership has catalysed rapid growth through innovation and collaboration. This strong bond, rooted in a friendship formed during their university years, serves as the cornerstone of their business. It vividly illustrates the potency of teamwork when embarking on an entrepreneurial journey with a friend. Sergio reflects on their journey, saying, “We actually met on campus. He has been my friend since my second year of university. So I can say we’ve been collaborating, and he has been of great help to me both in and out of business.”
Sergio’s story is a compelling example of how starting a business with a friend can be a rewarding endeavour when approached thoughtfully and responsibly. It’s essential to remember that this partnership can significantly impact both your professional and personal lives, and it requires a strong foundation of trust, open communication, and shared vision.