Ooh, friends is a tough one! Instinctively I want to say “No, you should never mix business with pleasure, it always ends badly!”

But…

Last year I did do some work for SureCloud, the company my husband works for. I was very clear from the outset that professionally I had nothing to do with him and they would receive the same level of service as my other clients.

Tip #1: Being clear about preferential treatment (or rather lack of it!) is really important from the outset.

I’ve also worked for Process Bliss, with a friend. In what is a slightly incestuous-sounding story…

My first boss sold his company and set up a new one. I got involved last year to help set up the marketing function (not what I usually do, but I have a lot of respect for the guy, and it was only meant to be a 3-month thing). And then I subsequently helped to hire a full-time marketing manager – my friend. The relationship worked well because she was the marketing manager, and me the copywriter, so we had clearly defined roles.

Tip #2: Define the boundaries of the relationship so you know what everyone is responsible for delivering.

Ultimately, every one of my clients becomes a friend on some level – I wouldn’t work with them otherwise. Granted, I’m not going to share my deepest darkest secrets, or cry on their shoulder about feeling the dreaded imposter syndrome. But when we work together, both parties have to be very open and honest about all sorts of confidential information, so there’s a deep level of trust and respect within the relationship…

And yes, we share coffee and cake a lot, which means the conversation often veers away from being purely business.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that yes, you can mix friends and business, but you need to be really clear up front to set expectations. And that starts with getting them to sign a contract so you know they’ve read and agreed to those terms. It doesn’t have to be anything scary – mine is a really simple 2-page document. If you’d like to see a copy, let me know…

Tip #3: Setting expectations upfront in a signed contract with everyone – friend or otherwise – is essential to prevent future issues arising.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash