by Judy Artunian
“Most of us have formed friendships with people we have met through work. But when those friends are also your customers, the work-friendship mix can become toxic.
It is tempting to take on friends as customers. You have an easy rapport with each other. They could be a source of new business referrals. But when your friend is also your customer, emotions may get the best of you when you least expect it. That can be the case even if you both enter into the business relationship with a firm vow to never let the friendship get in the way of business, and vice versa. That is because, deep down, we all expect special treatment from our friends. Your comfortable business association might run smoothly for years, when suddenly your friend/customer’s business falls on hard times and he or she assumes that you will extend him or her better terms, with no questions asked. Or, you might find yourself assuming that your friend will absorb a price hike or a change in services with no complaints.”
– Most articles out there talk about taking on friends as partners. This article takes on a different approach and looks at taking on friends as customers. You should always charge your friends for your products or services. If someone is unwilling to pay and harasses you for free product, this person is not really your friend. Real friends will support your endeavor and be willing to pay to help you succeed. If a friend can not pay that is OK but they should not expect you to ‘give’ them your product or service. I will let friends know when discounts are available but I make it clear that these discounts are available to everyone but that I am doing them a favor in letting them know about it. Remember, you are in business to make a profit, not to give your profit away to friends. -ed.