Working With Friends And Family? – What You Need To Know

Working With friends And FamilyMy first client, when I started freelancing, was a good friend of mine. I had no experience, and was almost desperately looking for gigs. When that friend asked me to design his website, I said yes right away.

Was that a mistake? Definitely. But I learned a lot from that experience.

At first I thought it was going to be fun to work with/for a friend. It lasted for about a week, then I realized I was probably gonna end up working for 3 bucks an hour, and in fact that’s exactly what happened. About 100-120 hours for $350. Not really worth it. But it was my first gig, I wanted to do it, and I had to start somewhere.

You Still Need A Contract

Because you work for a friend doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have that friend sign a contract. It’s a business, your friend is a customer, just like anyone else. To avoid confusion, misunderstandings and arguments later on, make sure you clearly explain the reasons you want your friend to sign a contract.

Same goes if you’re teaming up, and starting a business. You still need a business plan, and have a written (legal) agreement. I encourage you to hire a lawyer. Sure it costs money, but it’s really a wise investment.

You Need Some Time Off

Working with friends and family can be really fun, but if you spend 8 hours with that friend, working, and then you go out for a drink with that same friend, you probably won’t have much to say. By all means, don’t talk about work. ;)

Questions To Ask Yourself

If you’re thinking of teaming up with a friend or family member, or if a friend wants to hire you, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Does that person have any special skills?
  • Will it be beneficial for both of you?
  • How well do you know this person?
  • Is the person financially stable? (will you get paid?)
  • Is this person reliable? Punctual, honest, hard-working?
  • Can you delegate tasks to this person? (vice-versa)
  • What would happen if you ever disagree on something business related? Something personal?

You get the idea, there are probably a hundred more questions you could ask yourself. Just don’t say yes right away. Take some time to think about it.

Make a list of things you like and dislike about this person, think of possible disagreements, arguments. If the person really has skills and/or great ideas, can you put up with the attitude? Is the person super friendly, you get along great, but he doesn’t know what CSS means?

Learn To Say “No”

Is it so difficult to say “no“? To a friend? It sure is, but you can save yourself a lot of troubles, and 90% of the time the person will not take it personally.

What About You?

I think doing business with someone because it benefits both parties is the way to go. Not “because” you’re friends.

Have you ever worked for/with friends or family members? How was it like? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn? Any advices? ;)

Jon