10 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Start a Business with a Friend

10 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Start a Business with a Friend

Posted by Big Brand on 2nd Dec 2021

Admit it; we have all sat around with our buddies and talked about how we should put one of our amazing ideas into motion; in all fairness, 95% of these types of conversations occur after a fun night of drinking and are nothing more than wishful chatter, but what if you really do think you should proceed with a joint venture? Here’s 10 super important things to take into consideration before you launch your duo-idea:

1. Friend Does NOT Mean Excellent Business Partner: Your BFF is there for you in your darkest hours and has loyalty stood by your side through when you got married, got divorced and got remarried. This is a REAL friend. This is a comrade. This is the person you trust with your life and share your darkest secrets with… but that has absolutely nothing to do with business.

In fact, the absolute WORST person you can start a venture with is someone you cherish and don’t want to lose. The reason for this is that the majority of businesses fail, and when a businesses is going poorly, everyone wants to blame someone else, specifically when it comes to finances;

You: “Its YOUR Fault we have no sales! YOU picked awful merchandise! I told you we should have bought this instead! I NEVER should have listened to YOU”

Friend: “No, it’s YOUR fault! I told you this was a terrible company name and YOU begged me! If our company name was different we would be rich by now!!”

You: “But if YOU didn’t need every Friday off we could have made it! Friday is the only day we have customers and YOU are leaving me stranded!”

Friend: “You won’t even work past 3pm on Saturdays OR Sundays!! Who are you to talk!?”



You: “Yeah you did, then you picked this terrible inventory that nobody wants!”


It’s human nature to not want to admit the concept, lack-of-planning, lack of funding or other decisions YOU BOTH made were crappy; sure, maybe your decisions were better than theirs…. Or maybe theirs were, THE TRUTH IS THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER because the end result is a hateful relationship….not only do you lose a ton of time and a lot of money but the worst part is losing someone you truly love, and awesome people don’t come along every day… seriously.

2. THERE ARE NO “EQUAL ROLES” IN BUSINESS. I cannot emphasize this to you enough; there is no such thing as “being equal”. Why? Because you MUST “divide and conquer”. Although upfront someone says they have no problem being the one who cleans the toilet and sweeps the floor, 14 months down the road they are likely going to end up feeling like a slave while you do the accounting. The feeling of “Here I am, scrubbing away while he sits in his cozy chair!”.... Meanwhile you are sitting in your actually-uncomfortable old chair and wishing you could get up and do something...anything...scrubbing a floor would be a joy after 14 hours of sitting and staring at a computer. 

The bottom line is, there is absolutely no way to truly “rotate jobs”. There is no way to “equally share all tasks” because one task, such as sending out email blasts is one task… that can take four hours, whereas a task, like posting on social media is still one task, but may take only 9 minutes. AND you wont really know how long anything truly takes until you do it for years:

You: “I’ll respond to customer inquiries if you can just order new stock”

At first this is “fair”. Both tasks take 30 minutes a day, but...

FAST FORWARD 24 MONTHS when there’s 50 inquiries a day and you now feel screwed. After all, you’re staying up till 3am to answer every customer question while you see your partners Facebook photos of him enjoying Chicken Parm with his wife at Olive Garden at 4pm.

3. A dear friend doesn’t equal Experience. Going into business with an utterly clueless person, even if they are the nicest ever… even if they insist they are ready to learn…. Even if they remind you that their Uncle Steve owned a business and that they worked there when they were 14… what do they actually know????

Along those lines; you can’t just “make a decision”. If you want to change your concept, your products, your marketing, etc, you have to get another person to agree. As time goes on this becomes more and more difficult.

You: I don’t want to stock any more of this. It doesn’t sell and it’s our highest cost item

Friend: We don’t need LESS of it, we need MORE! I know for a FACT these sell because everyone I know loves them but all we have in stock is size 3XL. We need more sizes!

You: If size 3X isn’t selling why on earth would we buy MORE?

Friend: Those items you picked haven’t sold AT ALL. At least a couple of these did sell! That PROVES people do want them!

You: If they wanted them we wouldn’t have 3 cases sitting, collecting dust!

Friend: That’s because we only have ONE SIZE!

5. TIME OFF - We kind of already discussed this but lets delve in a little further… who gets Christmas off? New Years? Easter? 4th of July? Weekends?

6. Going a step beyond, what happens when someones situation changes? A sick parent or child, hospitalization, a broken down vehicle, another nasty divorce, a new lover, legal trouble, an unexpected pregnancy, moving to a new home… then what? Although they may currently feel like they are 100% cool with working any hours, any day because they have an open schedule, everything can change literally overnight. Tomorrow they may join Scientology or volunteer to coach their daughters basketball team and need to take every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday off… this changes everything. And it isn’t possible to tell someone to never change their life… ever.

7. With that being said; MOST PEOPLE REACH “BURNOUT” VERY QUICKLY. Most people are not used to working 60+ hours a week (often 80+) and most people are not used to doing this without pay on top of paying out their own money to work. Yes, it is a literal loss and it consumes every minute of your life. After several months of this grind, most people can’t imagine going through another day of it. When you have a partner who despises working after 3 months without pay, it is a recipe for disaster.

8. If you're a REAL friend, you are loyal and supportive… but this presents a problem because the dynamic of the relationship has changed. You are no longer beer drinking buds and now “responsible adults” who have to make big boy decisions that will impact the rest of your life.

9. Disagreements over money. When the business is slow, who keeps funding it? When the business makes profit, what happens when you want to reinvest it but they want a trip to Tahiti?  What about your credit card payments; should that be repaid first?  

It's hard enough for married couples to determine how money should be spent, let alone a pair of friends.  

10.  And finally, if sh*t does totally, totally hit the fan and you end up in a legal dispute, you will have no choice but to legally battle your BFF.  This is costly for you as well as them.  If you care about your friend and their family, and they likewise care about you and yours, this is a painful, stressful experience for everyone.  


If you absolutely want to have a company with a friend, it is important to think through every "worst case scenario".  Next Read:  80 Worst Reasons to Start a Business (GUARANTEED FAILURE!) 

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