A dear friend just posted his disagreement with this statement in his FB status. Okay, he’s exercising the right to express an opinion or dissent to another.
Now, in the case of “mixing business with friendship” can be either one of two things:
- you are doing business with a friend, or
- you had started a business relation that eventually turned into friendship.
My focus for this article is the first one, the latter deserves another proper occasion to deal with.
The statement actually came from me an afternoon before the statement was put as a status in FB. It was a contextual statement. To be detached from its original context may arouse many unproductive reactions. My intention is purely to put a statement on its right perspective as I have intended to when issuing it.
Friendship is something that have resulted from previous occasions and encounters. It is something that is built upon a strong ground of trust and good feelings. However, it is not something that you put on a stone that can endure the process of decay. Sometimes you need to nurture it even with a slight reminisce of a nice to remember event that had happened and contributed to the quality of the friendship. There are things that if you were to violate, than the friendship is gone – the most important is trust.
Friendship is built on goodness. Be it mere fun, or simply being a company in time of misfortune or grievance, or a helping hand. Those are the intangible things from the past that enabled the quality of a friendship that we enjoy at present. In a way, I see that friendship is a storage for intangible good things that have been done in the past. Regardless of the standard of goodness being applied is something that is only local to the network or be it a universal one. It is something that mutually being agreed as a good thing. The most important point to note is that friendship is all about about giving – not necessarily about receiving.
Business is another thing. It is relation based on mutual exchange of tangible things, it is a take-and-give kind of relation. Fairness is the measure of quality, and it is based on the things being exchanged must be of mutually agreed as fair. The tangible things mostly are about money, products, services, and other physically quantifiable things. There are going to be tangible written agreements usually being set before any relation is on going, even with clauses on what legal steps to do if dissatisfaction of any parties involved in the relationship should arise.
The above relations have by themselves signifies a great difference, something intangible as opposed to something tangible. The exchanged intangible things that we exchange on friendship is unquantifiable. How can you measure sincere gratitude? Is it by the ratio of smile curve to chin width? How can you measure affection being offered to you in time of grief?
Now the rest that follow is the emphasis of the title of this article.
Some of us have naively been engaged on business with friends. It was supposed to be a walk in the park. After all, we have known our business partners as friends probably longer that we have been in business anyway. The thing that both parties forgot is that business has completely different way of working compared to friendship. Psychologically this ignorance came from the natural tendency for us to justify the things that we like. We loose objectivity when we like something. We fall in love with something that we like, and that love is blinding us. It is a fact that happened to the most smartest amongst us.
Business is about exchanging values of tangible things, measurable. The resulting success of a business relation is a function of money, time, process, mobilization of people – all in exchange of one and another. Whereas on the other side, friendship, is a one way traffic. Sincerity is about giving without expecting anything in return. We know this very well, in fact so well that we forgot that the one way traffic originates from us as the giver, not the other way around. We somehow expect that our friend should be giving us something without expecting anything from us. They say that a friend in (time of) need is a friend indeed.
Mixing business with friendship can have its advantage, as well as the disadvantages. However, doing so requires both parties understand the basis of the nature of relations ones are engaged upon. Both parties must all be aware of the things that can go right as well as the things that can go wrong – taking things for granted because we are friends that do business is a foolish and irresponsible thing. Since both are friends above being business partners, both must ensure that more is being given to the other. This is, I believe, a recipe for a successful business relation that is conducted by friends.
To close, imagine it is time for your funeral. Who would attend to give support to the ones you leave? Families of course; neighbours perhaps, and Friends! Business partners like suppliers, vendors, customers – most likely, only if you are influential enough, or you have somehow given them something without expecting any return – mere sincerity. Or the worse is that their presence is is to secure the business debt you owe them.
So, do mix business with friendship – but mutually focus on responsibilities, the rights of both will be preserved just a consequence of the first. The causality is that simple. Ignoring this will result in not just loosing a business partner or a business relation – but the possibility of broken friendship.
A Chinese proverb said something like “Having a thousand friends is still not enough, but having one enemy is too much.”