Doing business with friends

I am developing a practice and last year took on a friend as a client.  I don't have enough clients at this stage to run it as a full time basis.  Therefore pleased to be able to do some work for a friend.  Over the last year I have noticed that if we go to the pub or a meal out we no longer talk about things like football but the conversation is generally about stategies to the improve the bottom line of his business or tax related matters in his business.  My wife pointed out to me that he is getting a lot of free advice.  I am thinking that if I was in the business of say making cheese and a friend kept helping himself to the cheese I would tell him no more.  This however is a little more intangible and I also welcome the work he pays for as well. Not sure where to draw the line here. Anyone have any similar experiences.

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Working with friends    1 thanks

Jimess | | Permalink

I do carry out work for friends and for a member of my family but I always have a conversation with them about boundaries and explain to them that if they want advice, to talk things over etc etc to contact me during working hours, at the office, and that they will be charged at the same rates as the rest of my clients.  You will find that as your practice develops it is not just friends and family who try and tap you for free advice, your clients will do this too.  You will need to decide how far you will allow this to go.  I find friends as clients are OK but I employed a friend and that is often a nightmare and because of that experience I would think twice about employing friends/family again.  It is more difficult when it is a personal friend, however if handled carefully you can preserve boundaries without offending anyone.  Try saying something to the effect that you are having a nice social night out and have left work at the office, and if he wants business advice to give you a call at a particular time to discuss it when you have his files/paperwork etc to hand to enable you to check out figures etc.  Also I would point out to your friend that it is not good policy to discuss in depth business matters in the pub - you don't know who is listening, data protection etc.  Your friend crosses the boundaries because you allow it, and, in fairness, probably does not realise how it affects you.  As the professional service provider you have to establish the work/personal boundaries, just as you would for any other client, if not you are leaving yourself open to all manner of problems.  If you find that difficult, then make a policy not to work with friends and family. 

Thanks for the advice.  I

Phillip12 | | Permalink

Thanks for the advice.  I will set out the boundaries up front in future. 

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