I learned very early in life that going into business with friends can cause problems for both your business and your friendship.

When I was a young teenager, I had a newspaper route for a couple of years.   Anyone who had a newspaper route back then knows that you had to get up very early in the morning, before dawn, to put the papers together and deliver them.   You did this in summer and winter, good weather or bad, in rain, sleet, or snow.  You bought your papers directly from the newspaper publisher and, then, you tried to collect your money from your customers on Saturday afternoons.  It was very much a small business.

Being the budding entrepreneur that I was, I thought it would be a great idea to expand my business to two or, possibly, three routes.   I recruited my best friend to join me in my newly expanded business.   I could not believe that there would be anything better then to work with my best friend and share our success together.

Things went downhill very quickly.   My best friend did not share my dedication and found it very hard to get up before dawn, particularly, it seems when the weather was bad.  Many times, due to the extremely large number of newspapers and the sheer weight of the Sunday edition, I had to elicit the help of my father to drive me around my route so that I could finish the deliveries on time.   Ultimately, I had to acknowledge that it was a mistake and gave up my routes.   My best friend and I were both much happier when we went back to being just friends and not business partners.

The lesson I learned is that the qualities that makes you want to be friends with someone and, more importantly, the flaws you are willing to overlook in your friends are the very things that may make it impossible to run a business together.   It makes for a perplexing dilemma that you would naturally want to work with people you consider to be friends; yet, it seems that working with friends does not always end well.

I tried to relate this experience to my children when they told me they wanted to start a New York City Office of USFSB with their friends.  Of course, they did not listen since this is a lesson you can only learn on your own.