Whether we’ve ever successfully started a money-making machine of a business, we’ve either tried it or thought of trying it. Initially, an idea hits you out of nowhere. You can be in the middle of a mundane conversation and suddenly, you’re struck by a brilliant idea that you and your friend are convinced could be the next big thing.
Sometimes, however, if and when this group of friends does decide to take the initiative to turn this dream into a reality, it doesn’t exactly turn out the way they want. This doesn’t mean it can’t be the next Apple. You could be sitting on the world’s greatest idea with your friends and fear taking the next step.
So let this article be an insight into what it may be like when your friends become your business partners.
The biggest thing that holds most of us back is the fear of effects that starting and running a business may have on our relationships. We discuss this very effect with the founders of TutorsInc, an online educational platform that was initially started by two friends Mahmudul Hasan and Razi Uddin Ahmed. They were joined shortly after by a third childhood friend, Adib Ahnaf Aroz.
“The dynamics of our friendship definitely changed ever since we decided to start working on this start-up,” says Mahmudul Hasan, Director of TutorsInc.
After all, this can be expected, considering your friendship will no longer be about going on weekend trips and going out for weekly lunches. Now it will become about working day and night together, putting your heart and soul into the work, and having disagreements that you will have to deal with. It then becomes about the livelihood that you’re working towards and some of the challenges end up playing a part in the friendship.
“We definitely came out of it stronger,” explains Sheikh Warda Mariam, co-founder of a café that she and her friends had started at her school. “We had our ups and downs, but I think that’s what makes or breaks both the friendship and the business.”
Regardless of what it’s like dealing with the possible effects, there are other obstacles that you may find along the way. With age, things only get more complicated. It’s not all fun and games when it actually comes to walking the walk. Talking to some of these people with the experience, we learned about the few issues we may not have considered existed.
Tasneem Batool, a recent computer science and engineering graduate from Brac University, started a business as a pilot project with a group of her friends during a competition. She mentions, “The biggest problem we faced was that since we were friends, we all had the same amount of experience or lack thereof. We would often find ourselves lost or confused about how to handle certain decisions and it seemed like the blind leading the blind. It was a struggle without someone who could maybe have guided us.”
Being friends usually means you share the same circle of mutual friends with common interests. This results in tunnel vision, skewed perspective and incomplete knowledge. Without the diversity in all of that, it can at times become difficult.
“Another problem,” Mahmudul reminds us, “Is trying to maintain the balance of our professional and personal lives. There’s a very different set of expectations that we’re trying to constantly reach.”
“Professionalism is difficult to maintain all the time, which can lead to a variety of issues,” Adib agrees.
Listing the problems that come along with working with friends seems hardly fair, because in the end, it’s how you decide to deal with it. Friends help us get through too much too easily when deciding to embark on a very different journey in life. Hence, we now get to hear all the advantages that we are offered when working alongside our buddies.
The most common response in everyone we talked to was about support. Undoubtedly, no matter how bad things get, everyone agreed that they never felt alone throughout the rather strenuous job of setting up a business.
“These people are my friends in the end,” says Razi. “They know me better than anyone and they always look out for me whenever I need it.”
Warda mentions, “They understand the personal drawbacks I may have to face. It’s more compassionate and genuine than it could ever be in a normal office environment.”
Trust and reliability is always a gamble in the world of business. When it comes to your friends, that risk is out of the way. You know exactly how reliable and trustworthy your friends are, and that in your time of need like they’ll always be there.
Tasneem adds, “Our philosophies and values are the same. I never had to worry about the intentions behind any decision nor was I worried about the clarity of the reason behind the existence of our business. Our goals were always in sync.”
Friends are an essential part of life. They hold a major role in the people we grow up to be and in almost every small and big decisions we take to shape our lives. Without them, a lot of us would be a lot lost than we’d ever care to admit.
When stepping into the part of life where it’s time to make something of yourself in a world with endless, unforgiving and ruthless competition, it helps to have a familiar face by your side. For the pathway to stability is a lot harder than any one of us can imagine.
Then again, everything has its downsides. Even working with friends as you may have gathered by now. However, one must look at the positives and not rule out the potential that could lead to better things.
Nibrash Kazi Subah, who very recently launched an ad firm, mentions, “Because of all the trouble and conflicts one gets into, they have to figure out a way to get along, work together and finally build a good understanding.”
Whether you can power through all the hardships to reach success is the real test. The purpose of this article isn’t that you start second guessing that business you’ve been wanting to plan. It’s about letting you know of the twist and turns of the way there. It’s to inform you so you can be better prepared going into it and come out of it stronger.
So what are you waiting for? Go and do what you’ve been thinking about. Only good things can come out of starting a business. For with failure comes experience and with experience comes success.
Syeda Erum Noor is dangerously oblivious and has no sense of time. Send help at firstname.lastname@example.org