9 Steps for Working Smoothly With Friends and Family
What's the protocol for balancing business objectives with personal relationships?
Entrepreneurship is not an easy game—especially during an economic downturn. Most entrepreneurs are looking for a way to be strategic with their funds, and, most times that involves bartering, and hoping for a hookup from family and friends.
Recently, I hired my husband to create a logo for my new venture—The Brand New Mommy, the ultimate destination for savvy Black women seeking to renew and redefine their personal brand post childbirth. Who better to hire than someone who understands and has witnessed my struggle first hand?
For the past six months I've been writing about authenticity and the importance of the big “reveal.” Well, this business relationship with my husband was less than ideal. I was not pleased with the way he handled the project, which led to a tense household for many days.
“Family members always feel they have limitless entitlement and no boundaries simply because there is a personal connection,” said my husband Andrew Bass after days of heated discord.
In previous posts I've stressed the importance of brandingand how the logo is the artery of the company, especially when launching a brand in a competitive digital age. My husband created 5-6 concepts for TBNM and the first five did not hit the mark. After several heated creative meetings, debriefs, and attitudes—I received a concept that captured the essence of the brand new mommy.
How do you move past the “personal” feelings and ensure that the next “working” experience will be better? Andrew says, “Both parties should create a realistic checklist of what is expected and the time-frame to accomplish the project. Most importantly, offer some form of monetary compensation—immediate or deferred—so that no one feels compromised.”
There is an often mistaken assumption that entrepreneurs are cheap and always looking for a “favor.” Not exactly—entrepreneurs want the best as the next competitive business owner and, yes, we do prefer to hire family/friends because ultimately they believe in us and there is trust.
Here are my nine tips when considering working with family/friends:
1. Ask questions (first). Have a to-do list of what you want to accomplish and listen to hear if they have time for your project.
2. Offer compensation for services. It’s best to agree on an exact dollar amount and get it in writing.
3. Refer a business lead. Everyone can use your family/friend talent—why not talk him or her up.
4. Sign a contract and get the terms in writing. Protect your household and relationships.
5. Conduct business during office hours only.
6. Set meetings outside of the home.
7. Manage expectations.
8. Check your tone. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.
9. Be appreciative of the service.
Join me July 29 @ 12PM EST for a candid interview on competitive branding, logo, and collaterals for small business owners and entrepreneurs with special guest, Andrew Bass of Straight Design at www.blogtalkradio.com/thebrandnewmommy.
What are your thoughts about working with family and friends? Do you think it’s a good idea to co-mingle business with pleasure even if you are paying for the service?
Karen Taylor Bass, The PR Expert, provides entrepreneurs, corporations, and mompreneurs with essential branding, marketing, and public relations coaching; www.karentaylorbass.com and www.taylormademediapr.com. Follow her on twitter @PREXPERT to read her daily tips on boosting your brand and @TheBrandNewMom for strategies on renewing and re-defining mommy-hood.
Tagged with: branding business relationships entrepreneurship hiring family hiring friends small business working with family working with friendsKaren Taylor Bass also wrote:
Hi Karen! Thank you for sharing 9 tips with working with family members. I totally agree. I will be sending this blog to a few entrepreneurs I know. But what if your family member 1. will not accept monetary compensation 2. does not adhere to a timeline 3. does not believe in conducting business during office hours only??????
Please advise I desire to keep and strenthen my relationship with my fiancee. Thank email@example.com" width="80" />
Karen Taylor Bass Reply:
July 25th, 2010 at 7:11 pm
Hi Joy, thanks for the comment and yes please share the blog with fellow entrepreneurs.
Okay -- It's important for your fiance to understand this is a business and must be approached as such with some wiggle room. Ask him how you can barter/provide service for him to provide a win-win and motivate him to stick to your deadline. Let me know if this helps. Girl, it ain't easy working with family.
Great article Karen. I think the difficulty with doing business with friends/family is that the personal connection makes everybody get a little too relaxed about good business manners. Those seeking the services forget to be mindful of the family member-service provider's time (and money). On the other hand, the service-provider-family member often is slack about the project, because, after all, they're not getting paid, or are getting paid below-market. I've done business with a lot of friends and family as the service-provider and there have been plenty of times that I've felt taken advantage of. But, I don't believe it was malicious or intentional on my family member's/friend's part, so I keep in mind that the relationship, above all, is most important to me, and I do my best to protect that. It's a delicate balance.
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