Business and relationships with family and friends

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Business owners have many relationships they need to maintain – with customers, suppliers, referral partners and even the public (trust me you’ll learn this if they complain about your business!). We’ll cover tips for these relationships in future blogs. For now we’re talking the relationship which can be overlooked. Today’s video and transcribed blog is about business and relations with family and friends.

We cover some simple tips in three key areas:

  • prioritising time with your family and friends
  • whether you should hire (and fire) family and friends (including a quick look at partnerships)
  • things to consider when taking on your family and friends as clients (including mates rates)

Video transcript – Business relationships with family and friends

If the video is not visible you can watch on YouTube here.

[Numbers in brackets below represent video timing points.]

Business owner relationships are vital to success

Such an important part of a business owner’s world is the relationships they form. With their suppliers, their customers, their staff. But also, don’t neglect your friends and family. So today I want to give you some tips about dealing with friends and family, to keep your business owner relationships with those people in good shape.

Point one – what do you want to be remembered for? [00:00:28]

First of all. The thing is, what do we want to be remembered for? We’re at our funeral. Clearly we’re not alive. But when people are talking about us, do we want to be remembered for things like: we were hard-working, we stayed up late every night? No, we don’t.

Schedule time for your family and friends [00:00:49]

We want to be remembered for being a good person. So really think about that and think about your day and what you’re doing, because sometimes we’re not making the right calls. Me included. First point is, schedule time for your family and friends. And yes I say schedule, because it’ll make sure it happens. But you can also obviously be spontaneous and do things as well. But make sure you’re actually allowing time in your day for your family friends. The good way to do this to start, is to set goals for the whole of life before you set your business goals.


Set whole of life goals before business goals [00:01:24]

When you set your business goals first, you may set goals that are basically going to cause you to fail in every aspect of your life, if you’re expecting too much from yourself. So, first of all, set those goals. We also then want to not let work take over. But if you’ve got a big project on, if you’ve got something really big happening, make sure you’re communicating that to your partner.

Communication is key to good relationships [00:01:45]

A big part of relationships, obviously, is communication. So if we can communicate with our partner and say, hey, I’ve got this really big job coming up, give me three days, you know, let me do my thing and then I will do something special for you, take you out on the date, take the family out for something, whatever. But try and make sure that you’re communicating.

Unfortunately, there’s been a number of divorces in the last year or so I’ve seen with business owners. And it’s an ongoing thing, right? We know that there’s a high divorce rate. But it is sad when you see business owners split, and particularly with their partner is also a business owner. We’re going to talk about that a bit later.

Summary of prioritising your family and friend relationships [00:02:24]

So clear communication is super important. Having those whole of life goals is great, and just making sure you actually give some time up for your friends and family. And also remember yourself too there.

Point two – should we hire family members? [00:02:35]

So the number two thing is, should we hire family members as staff?


Probably not. Not a great idea unless they are the best person for the job. They’re a good fit for the job. There’s a group on Facebook called TradieWives. And basically it’s a group where they’re the wives of tradies. And so what do most of them do? They do the administration, they do the bookkeeping, all that sort of stuff for their partner’s businesses. Often there’s a lot of angst in that. Often they’re not paid for that role, and often they’re doing a role that is far beyond their capabilities.

Make sure your partner is a good fit for their role [00:03:09]

So make sure, that if you’re going to hire your partner in your business, if you are going to hire family in your business, they’re actually good for the role. There was a guy I met with many years ago, and he told me about his business. And the first thing he said to me was that he was behind in doing his tax, and he was getting penalties for his BAS Statements which were really annoying him. And the thing was, his accountant was his wife. So the first thing I suggested as an advisor at the time was basically sack your wife.

Be prepared to sack or accept a resignation [00:03:40]

I think that gave him some authority to do it, because he felt like you know, he could use me as the scapegoat. ‘My advisor has told me to sack you.’

Anyway, so obviously it created a little bit of friction in their relationship for a few days. But ultimately, it was the best thing for their relationship because he could get someone that would do the job and do the job properly and on time. And he felt that he could be on top of them to do it on time.

Pay whoever is working for you [00:04:04]

But also she picked up a job somewhere else and was more happy. So, if you have got your partner doing the books or the admin, make sure they actually want to do it. And if it’s not the right fit, get somebody else to do it instead. And you should be covering that person’s time regardless. So whether it’s paying your partner or your kid or somebody else, you should be paying them. So once you do that, it should be fine.

Business partnerships tend to go bust [00:04:26]

Partnerships. Oh, partnerships they’re the bane of my life. I have dealt with so many people that have had bad partnerships, whether it’s a husband and wife, whether it’s two couples, it’s siblings, best friends, ex work colleagues. They tend to go bust. There’s been some really big high profile ones go bust. Grill’d was one of them (the business relationship between the founding partners rather than the business itself) because money makes people change. Right? So that’s something just to bear in mind.

Company over partnership structure and do your due diligence [00:04:55]

So partnerships, I really strongly don’t advise, unless you are absolutely certain you know what you’re doing, what you’re getting in for, how the other person works, how you’re going to be able to work together? How are you going to resolve disputes and make sure you do draw up legal agreements at the start. And in Australia, do not do a partnership, do a company. A company is much easier to dissolve and change than a partnership. So please don’t get into a partnership where disputes could arise down the track. [Speak to your accountant and lawyer before entering into anything.]

Point three – should you do work for family and friends? [00:05:24]

The last thing I want to talk about is point number three, when family and friends ask you to do work for them. So you might be a website designer and they know you’re a website designer and they come to you and say, oh can you do me a website. MATES RATES?

Mates rates – are they really mates? [00:05:39]

Now, mates rates I just want to raise this first. Mates rates, if they really are your mate or are really family, wouldn’t they actually want you to be paid what you’re worth. Just a thought.

Just a different way of looking at it instead of expecting something cheaper, because they’re a mate, respect you and show you that you’re actually worth what you’re worth. So I have a little bit of an issue with mates rates. But if you are going to offer them, make sure that you actually include them [in your pricing model], just like you would any other form of discounting type relationship. The other thing with mates that can be problematic, is you’re often just getting the job in on the side.

Don’t try to fit in work for mates [00:06:17]

The trouble is you can be tired and ratty. If everything else is busy, you’re not going to fit it in on the side, and that can cause friction and problems. I see that a lot of times that people are getting frustrated because their friend or their family member has ‘done’ their website, but they’re not actually delivering it. So that can cause a lot of friction. So just something to flag there.

Quality of work needs to stay high [00:06:39]

I also see issues with family and friends, you know, where they’re not happy with the quality of work, and they don’t know whether to say something with it or not. It just creates a lot of friction. So really think about that relationship you have with that person, and whether it’s worth losing friends or family over. Okay.

Friends and family leaving you reviews [00:06:57]

And with reviews, if the person is to leave you a review, again in Australia, the Australian consumer watchdog basically has rules around people leaving reviews when they know you. They must disclose that.

So if they’re a friend or family member, they can say, oh, so-and-so did my website, but you actually have to disclose it. OK. So they have to actually say, I know Jane. She’s my sister. You know. They have to disclose that. So just bear that in mind when they are leaving reviews and things, to not be breaking the law. Certainly never get them to leave reviews just to be nice to you to get you started, when they haven’t used the service. That is a bad [and illegal] idea.

Are you the right person for the job? [00:07:39]

The last one on this front of hiring family and friends, is bear in mind, they hear, oh, you’re a photographer. But if you’re a landscape photographer and they want portrait photography, make sure you tell them ‘I’m not actually a portrait photographer. I take landscape photography.’

It’s different, because often they don’t know. They know what they know and they don’t know what they don’t. So they may think that just because you’re a photographer, that you could do a really good job with a particular portrait shoot they need doing. Or their wedding even. If you’re not a wedding photographer, then make sure you disclose that. Okay, so you may not be the right fit for the job.

Summary – dealing with family and friends to maintain your business and relationships [00:08:17]

So in summary, when you’re dealing with family and friends. First point, remember you want to have a good relationship with your family and friends, schedule time with them and actually give them the time that they deserve so that when you do pass away they do remember you as a good friend, a lover, a partner, whatever, mother or father, whatever you are to that person.


Number two, when you are hiring family or friends, please make sure they are fit the job, and not just hired because they’re there. And particularly if you’re going to take that the step further to go into business with them, to partner with them. Just be very, very careful.


Number three, when you are taking work on for friends and family. Just remember, friends and family work should ideally be charged at full rates, not at mates rates. It shouldn’t just be fitted in. It should actually be part of your normal scheduled work. And that way, both of those things just don’t create any resentment. It also allows the person who contracted you for the work, to actually receive the work at a normal standard, and be happy to actually say, hey, this wasn’t quite what I expected. And remember, if they’re leaving reviews, they do need to disclose their relationship to you.


Thanks for tuning in today. I hope that was useful and to help you maintain your business relationships.

I’m Jane Tweedy. I’m from FAQ Business Training. Please tune in for more business tips. Thanks. Bye bye.

Need more assistance with business and relationships?

This is a high-level overview to get you thinking. Please reach out for more specific assistance and look for online courses coming out later in 2021.

About FAQ Business Training

If this is the first time you’ve come across us you may want to know who we are! FAQ Business Training has a mission to educate and empower small business owners to learn enough to do it yourself (DIY) or outsource with confidence. We do this via face to face training in Western Sydney (currently all training is provided online), speaking at conferences, events and networking groups and we have launched our online school and membership, offering online courses and webinars to appeal to a global (English speaking) audience. Connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.


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