How to Balance Business and FriendshipIt’s not unusual to find some of your closest friends among the people you work with. Consider the many hours spent together (both in and out of the office), as well as the many common interests, including of course a shared commitment to growing the business. 

But things get a bit more complicated when you’re the one in charge and your good friends happen to be people who work for you.

In many small businesses and especially young startups, “Most relationships tend to get pretty close,” says Prerna Gupta, a contributor to Young Entrepreneur. The long days, the emotional roller coaster of getting a business up and running can make things cozy with employees — “possibly much cozier than normal professional relationships.” The line between friend and co-worker (or boss) tends to blur when you seem to be always grabbing lunch or having a beer after work.

But, Gupta says, “It is essential to not let that friendship get in the way of your business success.” She offers four tips for maintaining an essential professional distance.

Tips to Balance Business and Friendship 

Be Ready for Disputes

Disagreements are inevitable in situations where people are stressed out and working in close quarters. Her advice? “Build relationships that are strong enough to withstand them.”

 Brush it Off

In the world of small business, there’s no place for holding a grudge. If an employee’s remark gets on your nerves, Gupta says, “Talk to them about it and then brush it off.” There’s nothing to be gained by letting a minor difference of opinion damage a productive and otherwise amicable relationship.

 Respect Your Employees

The people who work for you and whom you’ve befriended deserve your respect. They are there because “either you, or someone else with decision-making power, believe they are the best people for the job.”

With all the hours they put in—not to mention how much their unique talents contribute to the success of your business—shouldn’t you show your appreciation every chance you get?

Stay Objective

Friendships sometimes cloud your perspective and affect the way you see your employees. For the sake of the business, it’s imperative to stay objective about each person’s work performance.

Don’t hesitate to provide feedback when necessary. And, Gupta says, if you come to the unfortunate conclusion that an individual is no longer the right match for the job, “have the courage to do the right thing for your stakeholders and… let her go.”

Tough advice, but completely appropriate and professional. Friendship can’t get in the way of the success of your business.

How do you balance friendship with leadership?