Working with friends and family – Should you go there?

Working with friends and family can be tricky. If you’re in a service capacity or a selling a product, there can be many pitfalls to working with those close to you. You can suffer real-world problems by being nice. You may suffer from a “giving nature” or perceived pressure to give a discount or deal. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants a bargain. Budgets are always tight and money is always an object. That includes me and you. I find myself fighting these problems often. I want people to use my services and try to give a good deal more often than not. Many of my clients are friends or friends of friends. That’s the nature of business and life. The old cliche is true: it’s a small world after all.

The dangers are that once you start down that road you are committed to that deal. You will be judged just as harshly, if not more, for unforeseen problems with the project. Your reputation is strongest with with friends and family and will suffer accordingly. The point is to treat the job, if you choose to do it, as important as any job. The discount should have no bearing on the quality of work you produce. Once you start the job you are in it for the long haul. Chances are that you will feel taken advantage of; that’s the nature of the “friends discount” or “buddy deal” – know that going in!

It’s a trap! Those that pay the least will complain the most! They will be the one writing negative reviews on Yelp or Google+ There are many horror stories from freelancers in my industry (Link – check comments at bottom) You will be asked to do more than you thought, at ungodly hours and in the end with probably get frustrated and risk not only losing a client (or many) and a friend. Tread carefully when embarking on these projects. I, for one, feel you will no doubt be faced with this situation many times. You will eventually say “yes”. It’s just a matter of when.

So how do you protect yourself?  Follow these few guidelines:

• Be ready to do real work – it’s a job
• Set realistic deadlines. Your paid clients come first
• Make sure you have the time
• Outline exactly what is to be done. Whether free or discounted
• Feel free to say “NO” – The stress is not worth it.
• Complete the job! The blow-back from a poor job will haunt you.

It comes down to you. Working with friends and family; It’s your fault if you go down that road. The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong, or your wife’s brother. A negative review can be a good thing. It can remind you that you should strive to do your best no matter what the circumstances. When working with friends and family going the extra mile to protect your reputation will be worth it.