Rhonda Adams

Working with friends can be an enjoyable, highly successful relationship. After all, you know, trust, and respect each other. But working with friends is always tricky.

You may each see the relationship differently. While you might think your friend appreciates the work, they may feel like they're doing you a favor. And if their work is unsatisfactory, it may be hard to complain.

So take steps to be extra cautious when working with a friend:

  • Be professional in your dealings and establish a client/consultant relationship right from the start. Make it clear that work time is for work; social time is for socializing. Try not to mix the two in the same phone call or meeting.

  • Clearly establish fees, timetables, and expectations. Sign your normal contractor agreement or letter. Who pays for expenses? The more direct you are, the less chance for misunderstandings that can seriously strain your relationship.

  • If a friend is doing work for you for free, first determine if they'll do this on a "time available" basis or to meet your deadline. Don't ask -- or allow -- a friend to work for free if you have a strict timetable. Force them to accept some payment, however low, because you'll be making demands on their time. Also, make your deadline clear.

  • Communicate with each other throughout the project. Establish when and where you can call about work -- day or evening, home or office. Even if you're used to talking to your friend at 11 p.m., he or she may not want to discuss business at that hour.

  • If you can afford it, pay your friend's regular rates. If you can't and you've hired your friend because of special rates he or she's offered you, express gratitude and also realize they might not treat you the same as full-fare clients.

  • Pay your friend promptly. If you owe them money, it will add a great deal of tension to your personal relationship when you see him or her socially.