Working with Friends

This post has been excerpted from a Resources article by Alysse Dalessandro

vintage photo of women at the beach

photo via freeparking on flickr

As an indie business owner, you have to remember that indie means independent, but doesn’t mean you are above asking for help. You may be the Wonder Woman of crafts, but you’ll still need help from Wonder Girl every once in a while.

But before you start recruiting friends to help grow your business, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.

Resources

First, you have to decide in which areas you are most in need of help. You may have all the technical skills to make your product, but need some extra muscle to unpack and set up a booth at a craft fair. You may know a lot about pricing, but nothing about taxes. What about legal issues or graphic design?

Think about which areas are best suited for friends and which are best suited for some paid professional help. You may not want friends knowing the intimate details of your business’s finances or you might not want to feel indebted to a friend for having them wake up at 6 a.m. to set up a craft booth in 90 degree heat.

Friend or Foe?

It is by all means possible to work with friends; however, it may not always be what is best for your business. Friendships don’t require individuals to take direction from one another or to ask for payment. These are situations that could cause a friend to feel awkward and strain a relationship.

Before striking up an agreement with any friend or acquaintance, consider that in the worst case, this partnership could cost you the friendship. If you know the friend well, think about your individual working styles and factor that into your decision. A friend who doesn’t like taking direction from others probably won’t take too well to being bossed around by you, either.

Show Them the Money (Or at least the gratitude)

If you have asked a friend for help in the field in which they work professionally, be respectful of their time. A friend will likely not charge their usual rate, if they charge you at all, and that should not go unnoticed; the time that they spend helping you could cost them higher paying clients. Show your appreciation through thoughtful acts like treating them to dinner or sending a few paying clients their way.

If your friend is helping you for free with unskilled labor, that work should still be respected and, whenever possible, rewarded.  Whatever you do, do not exploit your friends’ generosity.

And finally, remember that this is your business. You are not obligated to continue to work with someone just because they are a friend, nor are you required to take their business advice.

Be careful about whom you choose to invite from the realm of martinis at the bar to tax returns in the craft room. Working with friends may save you money in the short-term, but a working relationship turned sour could cost you a friend. Make sure it’s a risk you’re willing to take.

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