Smith + Schwartzstein
Located In Morristown, NJ and New York, NY

What happens when you have to fire a friend?

You are an entrepreneur with a drive for success. You make the decision to start your own business and go out on your own. As funding is tight and the future is uncertain, you hire a friend from college who seems to have the right skills. Or maybe you and this friend decide to be business partners.

What happens when you realize that the hire or the partnership is not a good fit?

Good business may take hard decisions

As a leader and someone who runs a business, tough decisions come with the job. Optimism is an entrepreneurial trait. Knowing when you need to fire someone who isn’t working out often leads to a better outcome for the business.

What are some of the things you can do to make the process easier?

  • Don’t be hard on yourself – it is not uncommon in a start-up phase to hire a friend. Nevertheless, you run a business. The emotional and professional toll is not worth cost of keeping a bad hire. Do what you need to do for the success of the whole.
  • Communicate clearly before and after the event – provide feedback on your friend’s performance and give them an opportunity for improvement. In the end, articulate your decision in the best interest of the business. Keep your friendship separate. Be the boss.
  • Document the reasons for the decision and any supporting evidence

Setting the tone for a successful business partnership with a friend

  • Start your business off on the right foot and work with a lawyer who specializes in business law. Come up with agreements to address all possible scenarios of your business relationship in advance. Decide what you are going to do if things don’t work out.
  • Create clear measurements for success for all parties to follow moving forward.

Having solid contracts in place can be the difference between saving your business (and friendship) post-partnership and going out of business.

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