Is It Ever a Good Idea to Hire a Friend?

Small Business HireThe time has finally come. You have put in the legwork, the late nights, the money, the research and your small business is finally taking off. What started out as a laptop and desk in your spare room became something that requires office space and maybe even a warehouse for products to be sold and stored. Furthermore, you now need help. You are expanding, meeting consumer orders, packaging and shipping, and handling finances, but it has taken its toll. The next step in taking your business further and continuing to grow is hiring employees.

Instead of trying to handle everything yourself, you need to divvy up the tasks and have more hands on deck to make sure your consumers are getting what they need. You might actually be looking to act more as a supervisor and take a step back and let someone else manage your business day-to-day.

So where exactly do you start when it comes to putting your small business in another’s hands?

You most certainly want someone you can trust and someone you believe to be loyal to your business’s ideas and vision. Also, you definitely want someone you can relate to and have chemistry with to make the work you will have to do together feel a little less like work.

It is not easy to find those traits and characteristics in someone off the street, making the choice to hire a friend at the forefront of your mind. But as a small business owner, is it really a good idea to hire a friend?

It is a question that has been around for centuries and debated just as long. To this day there is no definitive or correct answer — it will most likely turn out good or bad based on your relationship. As a small business owner, it is necessary to look at the pros and cons of hiring a friend before jumping into it, as there are a handful of things to take into consideration.

An article from Business Know-How highlights a few major considerations, especially when a friend approaches you looking for work. While it may be a friend looking for a job and source of income, you still need to treat them like any other hire. You will want to consider their skill set in relation to the job, their work ethic, prior experience and any potential long-term effect it can have on your relationship.

That is the easy part. If you do not feel your friend can meet the demands of the position or even your own expectations then the simple answer is: do not hire them. If they do qualify, however, then you need to further analyze the pros and cons.

A few pros were already mentioned earlier and to reiterate: hiring a friend most likely means you already have a developed trust and agree for the most part on important work-related ideas and visions. You also already have a friendly relationship that can make working together easier and enjoyable. Furthermore, you know their reliability and if they will be able to do what needs to be done in the time required. This means you can always look to them when things get tough or you need something important to be done.

As it turns out, all of those pros can quickly turn into cons. For instance, while working with a friend can be enjoyable and relaxed, it can also lead to “goofing off.” It might end up taking longer to get a project done because of time wasted just enjoying each other’s company. Along the same lines, if you have hired a friend for your small business and they are not living up to your expectation, it will be difficult to reprimand them. On one hand, you do not want to hurt their feelings or damage your personal relationship, but on the other, you need to be the boss and get them to do their job as it needs to be done.

Other potential issues that will most likely arise can stem from money. You might feel a pressure to pay your friend more than another employee simply because they are your friend. Your friend might feel entitled to higher pay or find it easier to request pay raises for the same reason.

This can also lead to more disdain from other employees you might have. They might feel you are favoring your friend over them (even if you are not) just because of your relationship outside of work. It will also make it difficult to promote your friend over another employee or vice versa because the other employee might feel the promotion went to your friend out of favoritism. If your friend did not get the promotion they might believe it to be personal, damaging your relationship.

Another good point, brought up in an article from Business Knowledge Source, is that hiring a friend at work could mean outside, personal disputes carry into work. It can also work the other way where a work-related disagreement or issue spills over into your personal lives.

Lastly, the biggest con comes if you get pushed to the point where you have to fire your friend. Many people do not like to think about that situation when hiring a friend, but in reality, it is something that may end up a possibility. Before hiring a friend you have to know you are capable of firing them if necessary. You also need to be prepared for any repercussions from a friend you have fired. They might take it personally or feel they were wrongfully terminated for reasons beyond the workplace. Again, this just becomes another strain on your original relationship and is most likely something you do not want to have to deal with.

When it comes down to it, your main goal is to keep your business thriving and growing. Your business’s success is and should be the only priority. If that means hiring a friend will help you reach that desired success, then hire a friend. But if you feel hiring a friend will put your business’s livelihood at stake and you do not want to damage your already existent relationship, then it might not be the best move to make.

Always weigh the pros and cons and make the decision that is best for your business.

Check out this article on Medium, too!