Fabulous business tips with a side of life.

On ethics and etiquette

I hope this topic will become a regular post here but I need YOU to send in your questions to hello@lisaeisenberg.com. I received an email after my post on facebook with this great question. I hope you’ll share your thoughts here, on FB or by emailing hello@lisaeisenberg.com

Sam writes:
I’ve been looking to boost my income and step outside my comfort zone. A friend who is also self employed is pushing for us to blend our services and work together. We also live a few hours away so a lot of our work would be managed virtually. In addition, her business has been more successful than mine so she feels she should own a majority. I think it could work but I worry about our friendship. Any advice?

Lisa says:
Akin to loaning money to family, this is another area where you want to tread lightly. The first and most important question you want to ask yourself is, how will I feel if this friendship is ruined? If you can get past that, let’s look at some other important factors.

Yours, mine or ours. How will you decide if this falls under your business, their business or a new business? My opinion is you always want to preserve your business for the sake of maintaining your own professional identity. Below are the questions which pop into my head and you should be prepared to answer these for yourself before taking that leap.

1. How will you approach the mingling of your businesses? Will you each maintain your respective business or create a new one?

2. Who will you bring in to handle the vetting process? (For the purpose of clarity, vetting is how you will assess this individual’s current business, debts, liabilities and authenticity)

3. Regardless of this individuals success, if you are considering merging, you should be bringing equal parts to the table.  Who will be handling what?

In a nutshell, I see some red flags so let’s visit each of them. First and foremost, any time you consider mixing and mingling your business you want to do it legally to protect and preserve your assets, your intellectual property and your contacts. Personally I would not enter into any new relationship without going through the vetting process. In addition, before entering into a new business arrangement or merging my current one, I would enter into a joint venture for a time or project limited scope to see how you work together. You will also want to ensure you are both putting your best foot forward and assess if the fruits of your labor are financially and otherwise beneficial to each of you. Either way, you should never enter into any business arrangement or agreement without some legal assistance. If you don’t have a business attorney, you can do one of a few things. You can seek legal advice from your local small business association, ask for recommendations from other businesses or if you feel you are comfortable with the lingo and consider yourself fairly astute, you can attempt some DIY and have an attorney look at it before signing on the dotted line. As for me, I was lucky, that in grad school I was able to minor in law so while I’m not an attorney, I’m pretty comfortable with most of the legal jargon. Regardless of the topic, I always consult my go-to resource, Small Business Bodyguard. For less than most consults I feel like I have a lawyer in my back pocket for times when I need a quick contract, template, letter or other business document. If you want to check it out, click here.

I’m anxious to hear your thoughts. Comment below, join the discussion on facebook or send email to me at hello@lisaeisenberg.com

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