As a business owner, sometimes it is hard to distinguish the line of a personal and professional relationship. As a solopreneur, the line becomes blurred as you are the face of your brand. With your personal and professional tone closely linked, it is essential that you treat your relationships with care.
Keep in mind that your actions and words can be used against you and your business. How do I know this? I've seen business owners make this mistake too many times. One conflict puts a stain on their personal and professional reputation and their business suffers because of a misunderstanding and lack of apology.
If you are having a conflict with someone who happens to be a customer and a friend, it can be messy and uncomfortable. There are also dire consequences if it gets too out of hand.
You can lose a customer and possibly a friend
People like to do business with who they know, like, and trust. If there's a conflict, they don't like you too much and you have lost their trust. They are more than likely not going to do business with you if the conflict continues to get worse.
You might have to do damage control to your reputation
Too bad customers who have had a bad experience tell more people about their experience than customers who have had a good experience. If a bad transaction is the culprit, you might have to do damage control to protect your reputation and your company.
It hurts cross promotion and joint ventures
If there was a joint venture project, it hurts all participants involved in the project. In the end, it's more than your business that suffers. It is the customers that the promotion is trying to reach. They will not get the chance to experience your product or service, a possible solution to their problem.
Treat Your Relationships With Care
Maintain your relationships with your fellow business owners, especially the ones in your network. If you have a conflict, work it out. You'd be surprised at what can be solved when two business owners work out their issues in a professional manner.
Do you think personal relationships can affect your branding? Share your opinion in the comments section below.
It is most critical when you have to fire a client. (My reasons: bills not paid on time, expect services to be included at no charge, multiple missed appointments, abuse of my staff.) There are no easy ways around this problem.
Yes, sometimes it does come to that. For some business owners, personal and professional relationships are so closely linked and it’s hard to distinguish where the line starts and ends.
Very good, Kristen.
Because I work closely with many people I’ve learned to keep my private life OUT of business happenings. Too much in getting too personal with clients.
Good for you Leona! That can be difficult sometimes.
Fabulous post! You said it perfectly, “If you have a conflict, work it out.” And work it out with listening, emotional intelligence and the professionalism you mentioned.
You’re right Leanne! The key word is “professional”. You can’t let personal feelings get in the way. Even though that’s hard sometimes. 🙂
I agree that people do business with people they know, like and trust…That means personal relationships CAN hurt your business. Thank you for a great post!
Thanks Janette! It can and that’s why you have to treat people and your relationships with care.
I have been fortunate enough so far that personal relationships have only helped my biz/brand. However, when I worked for a company….whoa! There were always, always, always personal conflicts among employees! You said it though, staying professional is key and remembering that friend or not, the “customer” is always right.
Lucky you Jennifer! I’m glad that personal relationships have helped your business!
Relationships matter. Sometimes, they are professional relationship, sometimes personal but they all need mutual open communication and a willingness to work out the problems and disagreements.
Great point Roberta! The two people involved have to be willing. Thanks for stopping by!
Good advice and tips Kristen. Personal relationships good or bad will certainly affect your business branding. I believe if there is ever an incident that negatively affects your business name or reputation, must be dealt with right away. It is always best to keep things positive and if necessary offer sincere apologies right away to insure you can maintian your business relationship even if the friendship could be strained.
Great insight Lynn. I like how you pointed out to keep things positive. This could mean a lot when working the situation out. Thanks!
Kristen – So far, cross fingers I havent had any problems with personal or professional relationships affecting my brand, but they certainly could. I work very hard to ensure any problems (such as website glitches that adversely affect my clients) are discussed and usually I provide them with some recompence for any issues that arise or at the very least an apology.
I think the key, as you and others have said is communication.
LOL, my fingers are crossed too Maureen! I like your policy: “at the very least an apology.” Many businesses don’t do that.
Thanks for the tip!
This is so relevant when one wants to quit a job (been there, done that!) and it got way too nasty! Loved the post!
Thanks Hajra! That happens too!
Awesome topic, Kristen.
Reminds me of a very old adage and a philosophy I firmly abide by …
“Bad news spreads like wildfire!” And “Never do business with family or friends.”
Once a conflict goes from bad to worse and then festers into a “caustic” matter, no amount of damage control under the sun will get things resolved. Lynn’s advice is good — move as quickly as possible to put out the fire. If you allow it to become a blazing inferno, the only thing left of that particular relationship will be charred ashes.
Misery loves company, right? So there’s nothing worse than a scorned customer or client, especially when that individual is a friend. The biggest problem, as I see it, is that the two of you would most likely have “mutual” friends. See where I’m going with this? Then it gets to a point where people start “taking sides” — an ugly situation that can get a whole lot uglier.
Great conversation here!
Thanks Melanie! You’re right, there could be mutual friends who would be asked to take sides.
Hi Kristen, I am new in building my brand so this is a good point to keep in mind. Offline, I think my personal relationships have built my brand but when I start a professional relationship I do keep it professional until I know the client well enough to know when I can slowly make is a bit more personal. There are some relationships which are strictly professional and I plan on keep it that way but for those which have turned into personal relationships, it’s worked out well.
Well said Diana! Thanks for stopping by and giving your valuable input!
Such a pertinent post, Kristen! I’ve been thinking about this post a lot lately in terms of Facebook — what are your thoughts on adding professional business contacts as friends on a personal Facebook account? It seems to be working alright for me so far, but I haven’t had friends as clients yet. =)
Great question Samantha! At first, my clients connected with me on LinkedIn and I wouldn’t add them as friends on Facebook. That didn’t work out too well because Facebook is more popular.
Same with you, I haven’t had friends as clients yet, it’s been customers adding me as a friend on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by Samantha and asking a thought-provoking question.