Business and Friendship

A friend and client was talking to me on the phone today. She said, “All of my business seems to be coming from friends. That isn’t how I wanted it. It seems so much more difficult!” She said that it was harder to bill them, and to keep the business side of things businesslike, because her desire to give to her friends was interfering.

When you have a business, and choose to grow that business through networking, virtually every client will be a friend. They do business with you BECAUSE you are a friend. I don’t mean your existing friends or family will come to you for business, they rarely do. But people who have known you always as a business person, will come to trust you because of friendship, and wish to do business with you.

It is OK to charge your friends for work! They come to you usually expecting to pay. If you hum and haw around, you just keep things uncomfortable for them. You can say outright, to friends, or even family, “I can do this much free. After that, the cost to you will be this.”

That is a good thing for both of you. Most of them want to know! If it is something you cannot give, you MUST say so. If it is something you WANT to give, say that too. “I’d be happy to do that for you without charge, because you are a friend, and I can afford to do that this time.”

They didn’t come to you because they wanted a freebie – well once in a while, but usually they needed to do business with someone, they expected to pay, and they chose YOU. They want to pay a fair price. They trust you to give them that. Do so, and you have given them something they were having a hard time finding elsewhere.

Give them the same consideration that you’d give any client – use a contract, spell out the terms, be firm and detailed about costs and limitations. Never think that since it is a friend that you don’t need a contract, or that you can do business more casually. That isn’t why they came to you! And leaving out the details will cause a breach that a good contract won’t risk.

The desire to give is great. In business, we choose when we can afford to, and when we cannot. When we can’t we say so, and confine the giving to giving great service and value for what we charge for. That’s how you grow a business with the best of everything.

It is only when we DON’T say, and when we DON’T put things in writing, or observe professionalism with friends, that we get into trouble.

Friendship and business can co-exist very well together!

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