When business is personal: Guide to working with family and/or friends

Combining your work life and personal life can be a combustible brew. Even people who’ve done it successfully would have to acknowledge the potential pitfalls that could damage or destroy family relationships or friendships. “The surest way to ruin Thanksgiving dinner forever is to do business with a family or friend in a slipshod way,” said Manhattan business lawyer Nina Kaufman, who’s worked with many clients in forming — and dissolving — partnerships. “I’ve seen the wreckage of a lot of personal relationships because people didn’t recognize one very important consideration: You have a special asset at risk.” What’s their strategy? Lower East Side businesswomen Melissa McGraw and Jennifer Gregory created workchic.com, an online fashion forum for women, after meeting at a class on how to create your own Web site. They became fast friends and business partners upon their first meeting. They believe they have the right formula: common ground but different strengths. Maggie Ellis Chotas and Betsy Polk Joseph also are friends and business partners. They are co-owners of Durham, N.C.-based Mulberry Tree Consulting, which advises corporate clients on building better relationships and teams. “We can’t imagine a better way of working,” said Chotas, who is writing a book with Joseph titled, “Between Us We Have It All.” They’ve interviewed 60 women who thrive in work partnerships. Their research has led them to the conclusion that trust is a prevailing factor. “When families and friends nurture the relationships at the core of their business, the results are rewarding,… [Read full story]

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