Are your friends clients?
Some think it’s simply wrong, and more accurately (at least in their minds anyway), that it’s actually impossible to have a “real” friendship with a client. And then there are others who feel that having friends as clients is the best way to do business.
So, who’s right?
The definition of friend is:
A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.
Well that definition surely sounds accurate when one is speaking about their business “friends” but the reality is that doing business with friends can get very sticky and complicated, two things no one wants associated with their, well, sources of revenue.
And perhaps therein lies the rub. Those friends you do business with are also responsible for your revenue stream. You provide products or services and they pay you in return.
But not so fast. Consider the following:
· You plan to raise your rates yet you know that your client (and friend) is having a tough time financially. What do you do? Do you make an exception?
· You cannot possibly bring in the project on time and on budget. You can explain the situation but know that your client (and friend) will be sorely disappointed and even more so since you are friends.
· Your business has changed and it is time for you to “divorce” some of your clients because they no longer fit into the type of business that you wish to do. Seems pretty straightforward until you realize that one of the clients that you will have to divorce is, you guessed it, your friend.
· And what about when your client (and friend) is late in paying you, or worse yet, doesn’t pay you? How can you handle that situation without tarnishing the um, friendship?
See what I mean. It can get very sticky.
Sure it’s okay to like and respect your clients and to be friendly with them; in point of fact that is exactly what you want to do, but in doing business with a friend, be cautious. With client–friend relationships there may be less to gain and more to lose.