Question 10 before you work together: relationships
The final – and maybe most important – question on my list of things to talk about before going into business or starting a project together is:
What kind of relationships do you want during and after this collaboration?
(See post #1 in this series here: https://leighchandler.com/questions-to-ask-before-you-work-together)
This is an obvious issue when you are going into business with friends or family, because it is important to preserve the pre-existing relationship. But it is important no matter who you will be working with. You will develop relationships by working together, and with some thought, you can point them in the direction you want them to go.
Big companies talk a lot about their “company culture,” but all groups, even very small ones, develop a culture when they spend time together. What do you want your culture to be like? And if you ultimately go your separate ways, how can you build relationships that will follow you into your next venture in positive ways?
Ask if you hope to be friends as well as colleagues. If so, what will that look like? In discussing this, talk realistically and non-judgmentally about the time everyone feels able to devote to socializing, and make sure you don’t create social obligations that become burdensome. If you are already friends or family, how separate will the work and personal relationships be?
If someone leaves the project, what will your relationship with them be? Do you hope to be positive references for each other in the future? Will there be confidentiality or other ongoing obligations? Planning for peaceful separation at the start can save you a lot of headaches.