Is it SMART to start a business with friends?

Mar 19, 2019

Truth: Business makes everyone NOT SMART at some point!

I know, I know, a little dodgy as answers go but business is tough! There is no formula for guaranteed success. The truth is that the answer to this question is super complicated. To say definitively one way or the other means you are one example away from being contradicted.

For example, I could tell you that it is a horrible idea to start a business with friends; thereby, not smart. If asked to attest to running a business with friends being a bad idea, there would be dozens, maybe hundreds of eager former business partners lining up to tell you how they were scorned by friends in the playing field of business. They would tell you the most conniving and convincing stories of business treachery.

However, just as you might find yourself leaning against friends in business, one could tell you of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. As friends, they started Google. Facebook? Also started by friends and roommates. We’re talking about Billions of dollars of success.

Ah, there’s the word success. Another argument we may need to unpack for this particular  argument is what one qualifies as success. Warren Buffet says:

“Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.”

Pretty interesting, right? Easy for him to say though, he’s already a Billionaire! But, what if you start a business as friends, make millions and end up hating each other at the end. Were you successful? Financially perhaps, but you could make the argument that your relationships may suffer as a result. Although you would be succeeding financially you are failing in your relationships. I started Fire Dawgs Junk Removal with my best friend from my time on Active Duty in the Air Force. While we are no longer business partners, we are still good friends and we both consider that a great success.

Super complicated, eh?! It may even be a bit confusing too since I appear to be playing Devil’s Advocate on both sides.

I believe that either way, friends in business or not, it’s important to go into the business with an understanding of WHY you are going into business in the first place. It may be one Why, or a bucket of Whys, but working toward common goals and objectives will help you avoid strife and may help you avoid disastrous decisions. (Read: Why in the H E Double Hockey Sticks are you starting a business?)

Ultimately, there are too many variables and different contexts to consider before being able to answer this question definitively. My advice would be to decide what you want from your business and establish WHY you are getting into business in the first place. From there, if you bring a friend along for the ride, then take it one day at a time!

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