Starting up with a friend, a disaster?

Recently read this advice: never start up with friends or family. It will never end well. Now that makes me paranoid because I’ve started up with a friend who now works for me. How does one make this work? Are there any secrets/tips?


  • There are tons of examples of great companies started by friends or married couples. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google were all started by friends.

    You just have to decide whether you’re friends first, or business partners first. As long as you’re all on the same page there shouldn’t be any trouble.

    Internal conflicts lead businesses to crash and burn all the time, of course, but it’s much easier to get through the tough times when you’re working with friends you’ve known for a long time.

    • I would like to add that if you’re close friends and have good chemistry it’s actually a boon. What I wouldn’t recommend is to work with “friends” you don’t know well since you still care about their feelings but you guys can’t read each other very well. In that case you need to make clear that it’s business first and friends second.

  • It can totally work; just pick friends you don’t mind losing. Although people cite examples like Apple/Microsoft/Google, the majority of cases don’t work out – company busts (like most startups) and frienship sours so you lose both ways.

  • Every scenario, and every friendship, is different! I started a company back in 2002 with a friend that I had known since age 4! 40+ years into our friendship, I am proud to call him both my friend and my business partner. If you have the same core values, a common vision, and a similar work ethic, it can be the greatest decision you ever make. If you also happen to have skill sets that compliment one and other, it is even more powerful. I would do it again – good luck!

  • 1) make sure you have enough respect for one another that you can have ‘tough conversations’.

    2) make sure you challenge one another (just complementing isn’t enough).

  • I have a business with my husband. First year was hell, all the years after that have made us closer. Before the industrial revolution, most businesses were husband and wife teams. Or brothers. Or friends. Anyone that tells you you can’t is speaking about their own stupid story.

  • Just stay professional and you’ll be good to go! πŸ™‚

    Working with friends is awesome. Of course if they drift away make sure to take appropriate steps. This might be hard then, but you’ll get everything done.

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