The Day I Learned About the Downside of Having a Friend for a Business Partner

When I was about 7 or 8 my father, brother, and I went to visit family friends who lived in Delaware.

I didn’t know them at the time but they happened to have a daughter around my age and we clicked instantly.

We played together and figured out that we could manage the bar and solicit tips from all the guests at the party. There were around 50 to 70 guests and since we were so cute we got lots of tips. We decided to split the money and both agreed that was fair.

As my family was leaving to head back to NJ, we were saying our goodbyes when my so called “friend” confronted me.

She said that she was entitled to 100% of the tips since it was her house.

I insisted that we both did 50% of the work and that it was my idea.

Long story short, as I closed the car door to the back seat, I threw the money on the ground. While my dad drove off, I looked in the rear window and saw her picking up the money.

Lessons I learned that day:

  1. Good business partners are hard to find.
  2. Dealing with money can change a relationship.
  3. Don’t count on friends to NOT cheat you.

Even as an adult I have been very careful about whom I go into business with. For me it has always been easier to collaborate. Collaborations are fun, easy and temporary. Each person has equal stake.

Business partners are trickier.

There is usually one person who is more invested than the other (either fiscally or emotionally) at any given time, which makes it extremely difficult to coordinate, especially long term, as life goals change.

And of course you run the risk of harming your friendship irrevocably.

What are some of the lessons you have learned about going into business with a friend? (Positive and Negative)

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