friends and business

No More Doing Business With Friends Who Don’t Get It

This is not the kind of friends story I want to be writing on a Monday morning. But it’s long due.

Most of the people who know me, get me. Friendship is not something I take lightly. I don’t make friends easily and I am not the kind of person who has … acquaintances or … connections. Keeping somebody around just because you don’t know when you might need them seems soooo capitalist, in a bad way. It’s everything is wrong with the world, haha!

That being said, the inner child is very credulous and I tend to give credit to people from the start. It never ceases to amaze me how easily fuckable I am still. No, really. It took me 30 years to get a glimpse of people’s character and still this happens. Sometimes. It did it for the last time. Hopefully.

The short and sweet version.

I am a copywriter. Together with Alin, who is anything and everything from a web to UX/UI designer and brand strategist, we sometimes take smaller projects dear to us, where we see ambition, dedication, good intentions, etc. It’s not pro bono work, but we also don’t get rich out of it.

When the opportunity presented itself, we got in a project with a friend of mine, a person we tried to help by making a website for a new business. While it is true we didn’t program it ourselves, we did invest approximately two weeks in creating perfect user journeys, matching information architecture, visual and written content. It wasn’t really a piece of cake, not even for Alin’s long experience, because this website had an online reservation/cancellation system behind it and everything this entails.

The offer we made for our work was at least half from what we’d normally ask for, simply because we were friends with the owner. We got paid a little more than half of the asking price in the beginning. And that was it.

The project died.

Why? I will not bore you with the details. My conclusion is that people who don’t know how to articulate what they want or need make for terrible business partners. There is no shame in not knowing, but there is a shame in dodging phone calls or shirking. What are we, teenagers? More than that, people who don’t get the effort and energy you put in are not worth my time.

I went over it so many times, making excuses, creating arguments, trying to understand what I have done wrong to make that person, my friend, closing up and refusing any dialogue. I called, explained, apologised with still the same result — that feeling I was knocking at the wrong door.

So I stopped knocking, calling, apologising. It was hard. I don’t like to lose, especially what I think are friends. But after a while, fuck them. It’s cleaner and healthier this way.

There are two things I learned.

1. Never do business with friends with no work ethics.

No matter how good these friends are, eventually you will have disagreements. In the absence of a general work ethic, solving these disagreements will take a lot of energy than normal. Tending to someone’s ego can be a tedious job.

2. Never do business with somebody who doesn’t respect your business (or you).

It became clear to me, especially after the business owner in question demanded the advance payment back, that our work was not respected at all. Despite the differences we had, the website structure was in place, job 70% done. Some tweaks could have been made to adjust the missing 30%. Asking for the money back shows how little our work was valued. Not answering my repeated attempts to communicate shows how little I was valued as a person and friend.

So no, no more doing business with friends who don’t get it.

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