How to Get out of a Business with a Friend or Family Member

So you found yourself in business with a friend or family member and its simply not working out. We have all heard the advice “don’t go into business with a friend or family member”.

But as most entrepreneurs know having a wingman or someone to share the initial excitement with happens all the time. Friends and in most cases your best mate or family usually fills this position.

Besides the millions of websites and blog posts online discussing in detail why you don’t go into business in the first place (with a friend or family member) there is almost nothing about how to get out of business with a friend or family member when you are already in this situation.

Firstly, this is normal and there are thousands of folk just like you and I that have made this mistake and regret it afterwards. On the flipside this is probably one of the easiest business splits you will get.

Reasons why it’s not working.

In most cases a friend gets dragged into a business venture either by the entrepreneur or everything starts with a discussion over beers that leads into something viable.

Additionally, there will be one that can be seen as the driver of the idea or venture and the other just a wingman. This is usually where the problem starts and has been the case on so many of my ventures.

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Some reasons why it’s not working:

  1. Different paces and goals.
  2. Different opinions and want to go in different directions.
  3. One sees this as a viable opportunity and wants to work at it the other does not.
  4. Not gelling in a business environment vs. as friends you don’t have much strings attached or have to answer to each other.
  5. “Too many Chiefs’ too little Indians”.
  6. And the list can go on forever.

Can it work?

If you are reading this then I can confidently say that you are about ready to move on or are getting there very fast. The reality is a friendship or relationship with family is different on so many levels vs. a totally business relationship.

Without going into the psychology behind it all in most cases one holds your tongue early on and the regret / frustration grows into something that cannot be sustained anymore.

Although very rare, it can work. I’ve read some success stories where two best mates or family members successfully pulled off a good working relationship and often claim that the relationship helped make the business what it is.

Your options.

Work it through. The key to making these sorts of business friendly relations is communication. In my experience having lost tens of thousands on business with friends I have learned two things; don’t go into business with friends and if you do make sure you communicate as if you weren’t friends when its business time.

If only I had the balls to simply say NO or say what I really wanted or felt I would not be writing this. If you don’t communicate roles, set a standard and say something when it feels wrong you will not enjoy working together.

This is the hardest part of the relationship. The quicker you communicate the things that bother you the better off you will be long term.

Separate. The one benefit of being in business with mates or family is that you can play the friendship card and say truthfully that this is not working for you. In some cases obviously the friendship might be over at this point but you can still say it.

You will find that the thought is mutual and it once those words slip out of your mouth you will feel a massive weight come off your shoulder.

Again, either way you need to ask yourself if you are wanting to continue, can it be saved, and what is your ultimate situation? Once you know you can start the communication off with simply letting the other party know you are not happy and need to hash it out.

Often this is where you truly address the issue and then the rest is simply the follow through.

Anyone in or have been in a similar situation? Please share your comments or experience with all of us. Read more interesting articles here.

Image thanks to JD Hancock