Eventually you’ll find yourself in a situation where you and your friend are actively engaged as business partners. In my line of work, this means your friend is either:
- A client
- A publisher
- A 3rd party partner
I’ll be honest with you, this is a really tough situation. My clients have been my friends in the past. Heck, my agencies (when I was client side) have been my friends. It’s make for a tricky working relationship. But, it’s 100% possible to not only maintain your friendship, but also to collaborate on amazing work. I’m serious. Here’s the key – honesty. Yeap, it’s that simple. As Bill Joel crooned, “honesty, is such a lonely word…and mostly what I need from you.”
Why do I say honesty? Well, too often (and I’ve been guilty of this) we hold back our true thoughts, feelings, and opinions because we don’t want to hurt our friend’s feelings. This doesn’t help anyone. The friend, doesn’t receive the feedback they need to be better and mediocre work ends up getting created. Both parties need to be focused on COUNTING UP, not COUNTING DOWN. Here’s what I mean. People who are counting down are clearly focused on getting out of the situation. They’re counting down days till the project is over as opposed to counting up and looking forward to the next project.
Perhaps, more important than honesty is commitment. Both parties need to be committed to making the situation work and ultimately succeed. In my experience, this is where things often go wrong. Someone loses the drive to make things work. When that happens, they start counting down.
It’s too easy to start planning an exit strategy when things get tough. We try to comfort ourselves by saying things like, “maybe we should cut our losses now so we can keep the friendship in place.” Guess what? It doesn’t work that way. I can tell you from recent experience that when you start counting down, you’ll lose your friend and the business. That’s why honesty is so important. You need honest and open dialog to ensure that the business relationship and friendship are protected.
Look, working with your friends is never an easy proposition. Emotion will always get in the way of rationale thinking. That’s ok, we’re human. When we lose that emotional aspect, we stop being human and we start becoming robots. Whether your managing your friend, working for them, or working with them it’s a tough situation to manage. However, all of the situations and relationship hierarchies can be successful. You simply need to be committed to creating success.