Get All Access for $5/mo

4 Tips for Balancing Friendship and Business Tech expert Prerna Gupta on the importance of keeping your team at a professional distance.

By Prerna Gupta

Shutterstock

Q: As a young entrepreneur, how can I balance warmth and relationship with professionalism? Where are the healthy places to draw those lines with my team?

- Lizzie Smiley
San Antonio, Texas

A: In a startup, most relationships tend to get pretty close. Getting through the emotional ups and downs and long hours of startup life will inevitably make things cozy -- possibly much cozier than normal professional relationships.

Your employees are likely to also become the people you most often grab dinner or beers with after work, so the line between friend and colleague will get blurrier over time. However, it is essential to not let that friendship get in the way of your business success.

Related: Not Top Dog? 4 Ways to Project a Bigger Brand

Here are four tips for maintaining a professional distance:

1. Brace yourself. Arguments will happen. You cannot avoid them in an environment where everyone is overworked and the stakes are high. So be prepared for disputes, and build relationships that are strong enough to withstand them.

2. Bounce back. Don't hold a grudge. If an employee says something that upsets you, talk to them about it and then brush it off. Don't let minor differences in opinion leave lasting marks on the relationship.

Related: 4 Steps for Making Early Financial Projections

3. Be respectful. This is good advice for any relationship, but it is particularly important in the workplace. Remember that your employees are there because either you, or someone else with decision-making power in your company, believe they are the best people for the job. Show appreciation for the thankless hours and special talents they contribute to your startup.

4. Be objective. Don't let your personal relationship with an employee cloud your judgment about her performance at work. Be honest with yourself about that person's strengths and weaknesses. If you notice areas where she can improve, give her feedback openly. If at any point it becomes clear that she is not the right person for your company, have the courage to do the right thing for your stakeholders, and, if need be, let her go.

How do you balance friendship and professionalism with your team? Share your tips in the comments section below.

Have a question for YE's experts? Submit your questions in the comments section below and those with the most likes from other readers will be answered. On Twitter, use the hashtag #YEask. Include your first and last name, your location (city and state) and the name of your business.

As CEO, Prerna Gupta has overseen the growth of Khush's http://www.khu.sh flagship product, LaDiDa, which has received over 2 million downloads and led the company to profitability. Gupta also produced viral videos for LaDiDa receiving over 100 million views. She studied Economics and Computer Science at Stanford University and worked on marketing strategy at Monitor Group and early-stage deal sourcing at Summit Partners before making the move to entrepreneurship. She was named one of FastCompany's Most Influential Women in Tech 2010.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Leadership

This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.

Leadership

Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.