The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 5, 2013

Watercooler: 'Biz With Friends' is a dangerous game

Q: A friend of 15 years and I started a side business a year ago. My friend referred me to my first client and told me she would help out for half of what I charged the client. At the end, the client told me I was more professional than my friend and that it was obvious I did most of the work. With each new client, my friend has done less and less. With our most recent client, I handled all of the client contact from the initial consultation onward. Afterward, my friend asked for her 50 percent. I don't think she is entitled to it and don't plan on giving it to her.

We have no written agreement regarding our business relationship. In addition, she has never put any money into the business, whereas I have invested in marketing and overhead. I have tried talking to her, but she doesn't seem interested in the business. I am now looking into operating on my own as a legal entity and have applied for an employer ID number. I have not discussed this with her and really don't want to. How can I sever our business relationship without destroying our friendship?

A: This is the sort of situation all those group projects in school were preparing us for. And, if you're going to be a business owner, it's the sort of situation you are going to have to master: diplomatically ending professional relationships with people you dread dealing with. Granted, the impossible clients and unreliable vendors you will encounter in the future might not be friends, but how you treat them will affect your professional reputation.

I hope previous talks with your friend were explicit: "When you said you'd help out, I thought you'd be contributing more. But since then I've been investing most of the time, labor and capital, so I don't think a 50-50 profit split is fair any longer." If you've instead let this ant/grasshopper business plan go unchallenged, I can't entirely fault her for thinking she's owed an equal share.

Text Only
  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

Business Video