Nine secrets to transforming your personal friendship into a successful business partnership
Buying a franchise with a friend can be a fantastic experience that strengthens your friendship, as well as enabling you to realise your dream of running your own business. But like any business venture, it isn’t without risks.
It means you have someone to share the upfront financial investment, ongoing business responsibilities and successes with. But things can go wrong if one partner isn’t contributing as much as the other or expects different things from the business.
Going into business with a friend has many benefits:
Spreading the risk.
You don’t have to fund the initial franchise investment or ongoing business costs by yourself. Costs are shared between you, reducing your personal financial commitment.
Having back up.
By sharing a franchise with a friend, you can cover each other when you need back up. Especially as a working parent, if your kids are ill or you’re on holiday, work can still go ahead without you.
Increasing your impact.
With two or more franchisees, you can have twice the impact at events. Your stronger presence can make you more memorable and allow you to make more quality connections in a shorter space of time.
Supporting each other.
Being a franchisee can be lonely, particularly for those running franchises from home or not employing their own staff. Buying a franchise with a friend means you are not alone, but part of your own unique team.
But there can be drawbacks:
Confusion and duplication.
Do you both have the same approach to pricing, communication and deadlines? Do you both know exactly what you do? You may end up confusing customers if they don’t have one clear point of contact giving them consistent information.
You’re not completely in charge.
You have to consider someone else’s point of view and can’t take important decisions without consulting your franchise partner. You may have to compromise, especially on big decisions.
Differences of opinion, objectives and ambitions.
You might not always have the same time to devote to the business or the same objectives for it. You might not agree on your approach to new business development or marketing costs. You’ll need to find a way to resolve these differences to make the partnership work.
What’s the key to success?
1. Choose your friend wisely
You may have lots of great friends, but not many who you could share your business with. Consider whether it’s the franchise business that feels right for you or working with a friend that is drawing you towards an opportunity. When buying a franchise with a friend, both the friend and the franchise need to be right.
2. Enjoy working together
For some people, running their own franchise can be lonely. But with a co-franchisee, you immediately have someone who is in the same boat as you, who understands your challenges and successes and can support you all the way.
If you choose to share a franchise with someone with similar values, you’re likely to have the same ambitions, aspirations and approach to success and can enjoy starting and growing your business together.
3. Share workload and responsibilities
Defining distinct roles for each of you means that, unlike many franchisees, you don’t have to be CEO, sales director, finance manager and HR all rolled into one. Each of you can assume the responsibilities most suited to your background or interests. If you and your friend have complementary skills, you have a solid foundation for running a business.
4. Be accountable to someone else
The fantastic thing about a franchise partnership is that there’s always someone to keep you focused and motivated. Consider time blocking tasks you need to work on together, as well as business strategy meetings. Set clear objectives for each day, week, month and year to ensure you know what each other is working on.
5. Maintain your independence
Buying a franchise with a friend doesn’t mean that it’s all you ever talk about. To make your partnership a success, you need to enjoy working together, as well as working apart. This helps maintain a friendship as well as a business partnership. It also allows you to embrace your own personal style of working and your personal strengths.
6. Set boundaries
Do your business during work time and enjoy your social life in personal time. Find ways to accommodate both elements of your lives effectively. For example, an early morning walk on the days when you work together allows the ‘social’ bit to be done, as well as focusing on a task list for the day. Keep work out of social get togethers, so that you can still be ‘just friends’ and switch off from work.
7. Give feedback
It’s important to give your fellow franchisee feedback. Say thank you when your partner has helped you out or made a difference. Don’t just assume that just because they share your franchise, they share your thought processes as well. It’s vital to vocalise your appreciation for what they do, as well as ways in which you think you could work better together.
8. Be open and honest
Before you buy a franchise with a friend, talk about the risks and the consequences. What happens if it takes off? What happens if it goes wrong? What if one of you wants out? If you can’t be open and honest with each other from the start, you might need to reconsider your business partnership.
9. Respect each other
To work together effectively, you have to be aligned in your thinking, processes and efforts. You need to be 50/50 all the way and understand there is always give and take, which you should accept without judging. Believe in yourselves and the fact you can achieve more together than you could alone.
Kristy Roff is a regional director for virtual agency Get Ahead VA and co-owner of the franchise for Berkshire & North Hampshire with Suzanne Cox