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small business briefing

Do startups and friendship mix? Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

It may sound like fun, but there’s plenty to consider before striking up a startup with a pal

You hang out all the time, share interests, confide your secrets, have some of your biggest belly laughs, and “get” each other – but should you go in to business with a friend?

It’s certainly not an unusual sitation for pals to team up to launch a startup: About half of new businesses are co-founded by friends, family members or spouses, according to this Fox Business piece.

But while it can be a recipe for success, it also holds the potential for disaster, warn these two pieces on Forbes and Amex Open Forum.

Co-founding friends come with their own sets of often higher expectations, the Fox piece says: expectations of more loyalty, understanding, supportiveness and even defending with fewer questions asked than if started with someone with whom you didn’t have a previous friendship bond. And if they let each other down, the hurt and resentment can go much deeper.

Misunderstandings, Fox also adds, can come for a variety of reasons, from work-style or spending conflicts to strategy disagreements.

The Amex pieces points out the “good, the bad and the ugly” of buddies beginning a business. Among the good, it reports: Entrepreneurship can be lonely; there’s someone to relate to. The nature of your relationship can set the workplace tone. And you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

The bad: You know the same people (which relates, according to the piece, to issues of introductions, but really could also mean never getting much beyond your shared circle.) It’s tough to take orders from a friend, and it’s easier to take advantage of them. The ugly: Startups come with enough stress; friendship adds to it. And, of course, broken businesses can break friendships.

So how to make sure you score success for both the business and the friendship bond? The Amex Open Forum piece points out it’s not enough to think it will just be fun to work together. Instead, start out by answering some tough questions before you even go for it, including past startup experience, how your skills mesh, whether you really trust each other on some business basics, like decision-making and ethics.

The Forbes piece surveys several entrepreneurs who have founded businesses together for some bits of wisdom. Some might be worth considering before you jump to put that idea generated over a beer in the basement together to work.

Making a list, checking it twice

It’s that time of year: Thinking about the one that’s about to end, and the next one about to begin. To prepare your business for the coming year, Inc. offers a top 10 checklist of things to do before 2012 wraps up to set your business on the right track for 2013.

Happy about being overworked, huh?

Here’s an unsurprising statistic in the current work world: 87 per cent of people feel they’re overworked.

Now here’a s surprising statistic: 38 per cent say their work-life balance is “satisfactory,” even feeling overworked.

That, at least, is the reporting by Inc. of a survey conducted by project management software maker Wrike of 2,000 participants, including business owners.

Among business owners, 29 per cent were happy with their work-life balance, according to Inc.

EVENTS AND DATES

Planning and financing for young startups

For those aged 18 to 39, creating a business plan and finding financing can be tough. Small Business BC, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and Vancity are teaming up to offer a seminar to help with both those challenges. It will be held on Jan. 9, 2013. For more information, click here.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

A slew of Windows tablets: what’s here and what’s coming

Machines running Microsoft’s new system are expected to nab 10 per cent of market by 2016. Check out this photo gallery.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Big Red Cats conquers the slopes

In the eight years since opening their company, Kieran and Paula Gaul have built it into one of the world's largest cat-skiing operations, and are living their dream lifestyle, to boot, as this story reported in March.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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