Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello in Columbia Pictures' "The Social Network."
Merrick Morton — Columbia Tristar Marketing Group
By Kunal Desai
June 7, 2016

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What should you do when your friends ask you to hire them?” is written by Kunal Desai, founder and CEO of Bulls on Wall Street.

In business, it’s often said that you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure. And while this is true in many cases, most startups are built from personal relationships. Just look at Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT). They were built by groups of friends working together with a common goal. Hiring people who you have personal relationships with can actually give you a huge advantage in growing your company.

At more established companies, hiring friends or family might not always make sense. They typically have more access to talent, and the company culture and structure are usually pretty established. But in a brand new business, who better to help you set your company culture and structure than the people who know you the best? Additionally, with a startup, your resources are limited and capital is very tight. Bringing friends onto your team can help you make sure you don’t blow through all of your capital.

When I started Bulls On Wall Street, the first people I hired were my best friends, as well as one of my existing students. I knew they would all work 24 hours a day to help build the company. I had a vision and a dream, but very few resources with which to get it all done. That’s where the teamwork and chemistry of building something with people you love can really break boundaries. My friends took very little pay in the beginning in exchange for the opportunity of having long-term growth.

As a CEO, it’s my job to project a vision, but also—and most importantly—to build a culture that will serve as the foundation of everything that we do. Hiring people who share your vision and can help establish your company culture is really helpful in this way. But, before you start hiring all of your friends, there are a few guidelines that can help you build upon your friendships and develop great working relationships:

Friends must be willing to sacrifice in the short term for long-term payoff
Your friends are not working at your startup for a paycheck. Rather, they should be working with you to help build your vision because they understand it and believe in it. If they don’t understand your company values, your business relationship—and your friendship—might not survive the challenges that most startups face at one point or another.

 

They must be your hardestworking employees
Favoritism and nepotism can ruin your startup, but a culture built on deep friendships and hard work can help your business thrive. Evaluate your friends in the same way that you would any other employee, and let it be known that the best employees—whether your personal friends or other employees—will be the ones who move forward at the company.

Have fun
In Bulls On Wall Street’s early days, my team and I traveled extensively together, working remotely to build the company. Traveling together forced us to share incredible experiences and to work in close proximity to one another. This proximity allowed the excitement of what we were doing to grow, and made us work even harder toward our shared goal.

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