One of Rachel Bell's first memories of Sara Sutton is of her lip-synching to Duran Duran at a friend's bar mitzvah.
Sutton recalls Bell's star turn as Plum Blossom in the school play.
The two are best friends, and have been since the fifth grade. But it wasn't until 1995, when they were 21, that they decided to go into business together. Bell recalls, "My father told me that summer, `Rachel, you don't have to go into corporate America. There are so many great opportunities to start your own business.' "
So Bell teamed up with Sutton to create JobDirect.com, an Internet enterprise that connects college and graduate students with employers. Today they have annual revenues of $3 million; 24 employees in their Stamford, Connecticut, offices; and more than 110,000 resumes filtering through their database each year.
These two make for quite a success story. But for every Sutton and Bell, there are plenty of partnerships that turn life into a living hell.
Just ask Greg Gorder, an attorney with Perkins Coie LLP in Seattle who's given legal counsel to plenty of allies-turned-enemies. On the upside, Gorder says, going into business with a friend means working with "somebody [with whom] you have high degrees of trust and compatibility. On the downside, start-ups are hard on relationships, and you may, through achieving business success, lose something more important than money: a best friend."
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.