• NMG Staff

[The question] Is working with your buddy the best way to lose him?


This article was originally published by Alexandre des Isnards.


Every month, Alexandre des Isnards comes back to a key question, the one that we don't really have the nerve to ask out loud but that inevitably draws us apart. So is working with your best friend a bad idea?


Dinner at the Fontanelle's. As usual, it's lovely. It's time for a cup of tea. Your old friend Stéphane comes up to you with his tablet and shows you a couple of slides. "What do you think? At 11pm on a Thursday night? You feel like yawning. But he's persistent and when he catches you on a thought, he adds up: "Would you like to join me in this project? Let's partner up. With your contacts, things can go really fast. "


His app project is crazy. It's clearly a must have. You have to hit the market real quick otherwise big companies will copy the app, but you like the business plan. The funding round is obvious. You are pumped up but worried as well. Working with Stéphane every day is likely to be stressful. He is an impatient restless person. The opposite of you. Besides, Thursday night dinners are your escape bubble and now Steph will keep talking work and business. You watch his wife smoke outside with yours. She's their finance manager. It's going to be tense.


We all run into a Stéphane and sometimes we jump in with them.


Now, a true friend counts, but can a friend be profitable?


Difficult question. Various testimonies are rather contradictory. A New York Times survey reveals that people prefer to entrust their good idea to a friend because they trust them. But a friend tells me that she preferred to submit her POC to professionals: "An objective eye is better than a hypocritical encouragement." Who do we listen to?


Between friends, we speak frankly and understand each other without even using words. It makes it easier to get along and move fast. But the opposite is also true. Friends who are co-founders will tone down their confrontations for fear of falling out, nor will they dare to give each other instructions for fear of establishing a hierarchical relationship, incompatible with a friendship.


With common sense, we can agree that delicate issues such as profit (or loss) sharing or work sharing ("I do all the work") intoxicate associations. This is true for any business, but your friendship is at stake here. And we're talking about a friend close at heart. Not a fake friend on Facebook that just embodies a"contact". A friend you can call without small talk to discuss soccer or shoulder to cry on. Losing such a friend would be quite devastating. But living an entrepreneurial adventure with such a friend can also be magical. We are still at square one.


So forget friendship, let's talk about encounters. We often look for someone who matches our expectations. But what if it was the other way around? What if the person you met was the one you didn't expect? Worse, the one you didn't approve of? Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have opposite concepts of friendship. Keith gives everything to his friends, with the risks that entails. Mick doesn't trust anyone. Everyone agrees that they make a good team.

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