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How to Work with Friends and Family on a Startup

If you're like me, you've probably got a lot of friends and family who would love to be a part of your startup journey. You might even have some ambitious family or friends who want to join your team. If that's the case, this article is for you! It's important to know how to manage working with people close or related to you in order to ensure that everyone has a good experience while also keeping things professional. Here is what you need to understand before you invite the idea of family and friends into your business.

Know what you'll be risking

As you start talking to people about your idea and looking for co-founders, there are many risks you should be aware of. You may lose money in the short term, your friends could turn against you and even family members may choose not to support your startup.

  • The risk of losing money: If one or more of your co-founders has a poor track record with finances (i.e., they're constantly overdrawing their bank accounts), this can cause problems down the road when trying to raise funds from investors or secure credit lines for inventory or services (such as web hosting)

  • The risk of losing friends: In many cases, being in business with family or friends can put too much stress on relationships that would otherwise remain strong if they weren't working together on a project all day long every day.

Define your roles and responsibilities

Defining roles and responsibilities is one of the best ways to keep everyone on the same page. Make sure you, as a founder, have defined what your role is as well as what everyone else's roles are.

Below are some examples of questions to ask yourself when defining roles:

  • Who will be responsible for what tasks?

  • Will this person make decisions?

  • How will we communicate with each other?

  • How will we communicate with our team?

  • How will we communicate with our client/customer base?

Identify strengths and weaknesses

This will help you set realistic expectations for yourself as a leader, and it will allow you to better delegate tasks to the appropriate people in your team.

For example, knowing that your friend is organized and detail-oriented can help you know that she's the perfect person for tracking metrics and managing spreadsheets. If it turns out that neither of those things comes naturally to her, don't worry—you'll have plenty of time later on for the things at which she excels.

Identifying personal weaknesses is equally important because it allows teammates to support each other by sharing their knowledge in areas where they're experts. If one member of your team doesn't know much about customer service but knows how to build an app from scratch (and also has an amazing sense of style), consider asking him or her if he/she could design some marketing materials or provide input on what typeface should be used on a signup page.

Start off strong by laying down some ground rules

One of the most important things is to get clear on your goals. You don't want to be changing direction every time someone else in the group decides they've changed their mind about what they want from the project. You need a sense of purpose and direction so that you can keep moving forward even when people change their minds or lose interest along the way.

This is especially true if you're working with people who are more experienced than you in tech or business—they may have more ideas than they know what to do with, so it's good advice for them not to make decisions without thinking through how each choice might impact everyone else involved.

Set yourself up for success! Be ambitious but realistic about what kind of progress will realistically happen within the timeline originally agreed upon by all parties involved; then create small measurable milestones based on those larger goals so that everyone has some way of keeping track of whether or not progress has been made toward meeting those larger goals over time.

Communicate regularly — but not too much

Working with friends and family can be difficult for a number of reasons. Even if you’re used to working together, it’s important to set up guidelines for how you communicate.

The best way to do this is by establishing regular meetings so everyone knows what’s going on in the company, how much progress has been made, and who needs help from whom. It’s also important that these meetings are scheduled well in advance so no one gets caught off guard by an impromptu meeting.

These meetings should be kept short and to the point; don't go over-schedule yourself or your team members by getting into lengthy discussions about each other's work habits or personal problems (unless they're relevant). If there's something that needs addressing immediately, use email instead of calling people into another meeting — this will save time and prevent others from being dragged into an uncomfortable situation unnecessarily.

Set up a meeting schedule that works for everyone

When setting up your meeting schedule, make sure it works for all parties. Make sure the schedule is realistic and flexible. Finally, make sure that you document these decisions in writing so that everyone can refer back to them if there is ever a dispute later on.

Have a contingency plan in place in case things go south

Whether your startup is a success or failure, you’ll want to have a contingency plan in place for both outcomes.

  • If things go south, it's important to be honest with yourself about what went wrong and why—and whether that was due to poor planning or inexperience on your part. If you're the one who made a mistake, try not to beat yourself up too much over it; if it's a joint venture between friends and family members, then this might be an opportunity for everyone involved to learn from each other's mistakes.

  • If things go right: congratulations! You should celebrate appropriately. This doesn't mean throwing all caution out the window, though—remembering the lessons learned from previous failures will help ensure that any celebrations don't spiral out into excesses that end up hurting your business goals later on down the road.


Working with friends and family is a great way to get your startup off the ground. But it’s not without its risks, so be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before taking the plunge. If handled correctly, however, working together can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved — especially if it helps build up your network of contacts in this exciting new world of entrepreneurship!

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