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Should You Hire Family or Friends? Do you want to mix business with family or friends? To preserve the ties that bind, be sure to prepare with care.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You've been talking about starting that flower shop with your best friend for years. Or perhaps you and your brother are finally ready to open that restaurant you dreamed of endlessly when you were still sharing a room at home.

Now that you're in the start-up phase, the real issues of running a business with a close friend or family member are upon you. How will you stay friends? How will you separate your work life from your home life? How do you avoid a bleak failure that will haunt your Thanksgiving dinner table for years to come?

Family business experts echo one definitive piece of advice for start-ups: Communicate. Get everything out upfront, draft contracts and have discussions where you dissect every possible business scenario. "This should all be done in a very nonjudgmental environment," says Jim Ellis, director of the Family Business Program at the University of Southern California. "[You] need to discuss those issues upfront, when nobody's got an ax to grind and there's no emotional situation-because there will be emotions later on, without question."

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