Working For Friends


by Brandi Savitt – updated March 7, 2014

Can Business & Friendship Mix?

They say working for a friend is a recipe for disaster, but we say it doesn’t have to be!  Maybe you’re just about to book a session with your best friend, the famous massage therapist?  Or perhaps you’re thinking of taking a job where you’d be reporting to your old college roommate?  Then read on to see what it takes to mix business, pleasure and money successfully!  Hint: these tips aren’t just for friends who work together…

Communicate or Else

Before you hire your best friend’s husband to be your realtor, or accept a freelance graphic design gig at your cousin’s firm, you’d better sit down with your bud and have a real heart to heart.  From money to your work style and goals for the future, discuss ALL of your professional and personal expectations of working together – and make sure they do the same.

Keeping the lines of communication open and honest is the key for any successful relationship.  But as simple as it sounds, it’s one of the most difficult things to do.  Not everybody has a clear picture of what they want or how they want to get there, and many of us have a hard time expressing our wishes out loud – especially when money is involved.

If you and your friend can commit to keeping the lines of communication open, then we say full steam ahead.  But if that seems like a stressful challenge, take a big step back.  If your gut is telling you this may end up ruining your relationship, listen to your intuition!

Negotiating Money & Time

These two babies always go hand and hand in the business world, and money is the most sensitive issue of them all – especially for women.  In order for money and time expectations not to turn into a hugely awkward and resented topic, lay your expectations on the line as early as possible.  Also, this is a conversation that will likely have to be revisited over time.  The goal is to avoid either party feeling taken advantage of.  Understanding the reasoning behind a money decision – whether it be a fee increase or a salary freeze – is crucial in helping to avoid resentment!

 Don’t Act Like a Girl

Could I have made a more offensive statement?!  The truth is, women tend to internalize and take business decisions more personally than men, and working for a friend could make us feel even more sensitive in certain situations inside and outside the office.  Understand that business is business, and set simple and clear boundaries between your personal and professional lives.  Not only will this help define your roles at work, it may help you have more clarity when it comes time to discuss important issues.

Never Make Assumptions

Every job becomes demanding from time to time, and our personal lives and states of mind also add to the mix.  So, when the stakes feel high and something feels off, don’t EVER just assume what the other person is thinking or feeling.  The assumptions we make in high stress moments may feel very REAL, but that doesn’t mean they are  TRUE for the other person involved.   This is why communication is SO VERY IMPORTANT!

Ending Your Professional Relationship

Even if your experience working with a friend is a relatively good one, deciding to move on may be quite challenging – at least at first.  No one wants to disappoint someone or look like a jerk- especially to a friend.  But whether you’ve gotten a better job offer or want to try the new deep tissue masseuse, if you’ve been open and honest from the get go, the change in your relationship will be less difficult for both of you.  We have many friends who have worked for other friends and – yes – still maintain those friendships.  But be prepared for some VERY open communication before you let your pal see that “For Hire” sign on your door!

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One Response to “Working For Friends”

  1. louie says:

    Working for a friend is simply an “Opportunity” and should be treated as working for anyone else, on both parts. Corporate culture must be maintained without giving or expecting any favoritism, as that would be totally demoralizing to other employees. On the job, you never mix or misunderstand friendship with work. It’s the Godfather principle….”nothing personal, it’s only business”. Always remember who the boss is and things will work out for sure.

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