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How To Start A Business With Your Best Friend

Best Friend Day is June 8th. Not only have we been thinking about our own besties, we've also been reflecting on successful businesses that were founded by best friends. Maybe it's just that we like ice cream, but Ben and Jerry's was definitely the first company that came to mind. Other companies started by BFFs include Google, Microsoft, Airbnb, Warby Parker, and countless small businesses. Read our blog for tips on how to join in and start a successful business venture with your best friend.

Business Partnership With Your Best Friend

1) Establish Clear Roles From The Start

Setting strict boundaries with your bestie may sound a little challenging or cold, but it's a crucial part of ensuring that the business is, in fact, run like a business. When responsibilities are shared interchangeably between business partners, unnecessary stress can arise, potentially leading to power struggles and resentment. On the other hand, defining each friend's role from the company's start keeps work efforts organized and balanced. Establishing each partner's direct accountability for aspects of the business can drastically cut down on confusion, frustration, and arguments. This can also be the perfect way to capitalize on each partner's strengths and expertise. Divvy up roles based on each partner's skillset and availability, and make sure to compromise on the things you both want and don't want to do.

2) Write Everything Down

Like setting distinct partnership roles, keeping comprehensive documentation may feel overly formal or impersonal when working with your best friend. Regardless, role-setting and documentation alike are critical components of maintaining both your business's integrity and your friendship. Experts suggest directly meeting with a lawyer who specializes in business partnerships. It's crucial to have everything in writing, and a lawyer is the best person for the job (we definitely do not recommend DIY-ing this process). Not only do you want to get the obviously legal stuff in writing (like an LLC), but all expectations and partnership roles, how much of the company each partner owns, and agreed-upon exit strategies in the event that one of the partners wants to leave, as well. Include a detailed summary of your roles and job descriptions in this write-up, and use them as guidelines to hold each other accountable, just as you would for any typical position/employee.

3) Communicate

This may sound like a no-brainer, but we mean it. With our best friends, we often have the tendency to assume that we are in general agreement and have similar attitudes and ideals. For obvious reasons, this assumption can lead to a lot of problematic situations, across the board. Those situations get even more troublesome when you throw a whole business into the mix. From the get-go, you need to make sure that both you and your bestie have the same vision for your company. Even more, you need to communicate your exact plans and expectations every step of the way; there is no time in business for you and your partner(s) to be on completely different pages. When things get tough, you can't shy away from clear communication (as tempting as that may be). This will only cause confusion, frustration, and--potentially--loss. The hardest things to talk about are often the things that need to be talked about most. Communicate consistently and directly, and commit to being up-front and honest every step of the way.


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