When your work partner is your best friend
News is that Bollywoods first ladies,Gauri Khan and Susanne Roshan,are no longer just besties but also partners in an interior and furnishings business. Roshans Tweets suggest shes passionate about architecture and design and weve already seen Khan in the DDecor ads. Besides common interests,Khan and Roshan clearly have similar lifestyles considering their superstar husbands,and its wholly possible that a business founded on shared values and an enduring friendship should be a resounding success.
Some of the worlds most creative ideas and successful businesses have been collaborations between friends. Among the many things that distinguished literature as far back as the 19th century was the quality of the friendships that produced it. Poets Wordsworth and Coleridge,though rivals,were known to be inseparable and produced their most important works in company. More recently,Hewlett-Packard is an example,and the online file sharing site http://www.box.com was founded by Aaron Levie with his friends from the high school. Theres the wonderful film Good Will Hunting,scripted by Ben Affleck and childhood buddy,fellow actor Matt Damon. There dont seem to be any statistics on how many people start businesses with friends,but its probably the most popular way to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur. The very nature of entrepreneurship (when you have a great idea but no money or confidence) is to discuss it with a trusted friend whose opinion can be counted on. If youre lucky,he might even give you the validation you need by wanting to be a part of it. Also,when you work with friends,its bound to be more fun since youre hanging out with a pal. So why risk doing it alone?
Business partnerships,overall,are tricky to maintain,irrespective of if theres a friendship or not. Personally,Im of the opinion that if a particular friendship is precious in your life,dont test it by putting it under the strain and rigour of a business. No matter how good the understanding may be,many people walk into a venture without fully understanding the dedication and time required to get it off the ground. When youre friends,you can fight and end up closer than ever before but conflicts involving money are not as easy to sort out. Once you start a venture with a friend,the dynamics have altered irrevocably and then its impossible to go back to what it used to be. Inevitably,at some stage,one partner ends up thinking hes doing all the work. Partnerships are like marriages; there will be some occasional shouting and violent disagreements. But theres also a serious likelihood that if the business fails,so will the friendship.
In Delhi,starting a business or investing with friends seems to be the norm. I know people who buy property with their friends so that they have control over who their neighbours are going to be. In Goa,an entire street in a quaint little village called Assagaon has been bought by a Delhi gang of extended friends who also holiday together and work together. There are people though,who manage to have their businesses and friendships co-exist happily. Two of my friends from school started an event management firm right out of the college. Besides a few rocky patches,they have mostly flourished and got along. Over the years,theyve established some interesting,if slightly bizarre,ground rules. They make joint purchases of exactly the same things: they drive the same car,own the same iPad and apartment. If one cant afford it,the other doesnt buy it. Their logic is to keep any hint of resentment at bay. They also have specific areas and responsibility; they make a conscious effort to settle differences of opinion immediately and while they talk every day regarding work,theyre not in each others presence more than they need to be. Its important to remember that its much easier to get along when the going is good. Individuality can be a lonely business but if your business bombs,at least you will still have the friends shoulder to cry on.