MANTALK: Unspoken rules of friendship and business

Saturday March 16 2019

Nobody has money to play with so if you are a friend and you are being supported by friends, you have to come through. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nobody has money to play with so if you are a friend and you are being supported by friends, you have to come through. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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One day your friend quits his day job, and starts a business.

Of course nobody quits just like that, he must have mulled over it for years, planned, saved and finally listened to that small shrill entrepreneur voice that keeps screaming, “Quit! Quit! Quit! You deserve better! They are using you! You can build an empire!

You will retire at 45!” So they quit. They start operating from a small sublet space in a fairly leafy suburb because their clients are those that don’t want to drive too far off their comfort zone to come see his product; or they want to see your physical address before they do business with you.

He starts with one staff, who cleans up, takes phone calls and handles books, and the small annoying admin duties. He, on the other hand, meets clients.

He calls you one day and says, boss, why don’t you give me your business?

You aren’t too sure, not because you doubt his competence, but because doing business with friends can be its very deathbed. But he’s asked, so you support him.

Isn’t that what the Bible says? No? There is nothing in the Bible that says support your friend that opens a business or bee farm or something like that?

I’m sure there must be something like that somewhere in the Old Testament, if not in those exact words.

Then he cocks it up. He basically doesn’t come through and you want to handle it as a client and put him through the ringer, but there is that little matter of friendship and loyalty, supporting your friends, being forgiving and handing them second chances.

You tell him you are displeased, and he apologies and promises to do better.

These might be teething problems, you think. Things like these happen. But a little voice in your head says, “he will do it again, when people show you who they are believe them!” You ignore that voice.


You tell it to put a sock on it, because it doesn’t know the first thing about friendship.

So you give him another chance. And sooner rather than later he cocks that up too.

And this time it tests your friendship. Because you have lost your money and he didn’t deliver, and he doesn’t seem to be apologetic.

Naturally, the next time you take your business elsewhere, to someone who isn’t your friend and who only owes you delivery, nothing else.

So now he’s pissed off with you. He feels betrayed. Now he says you are not loyal, taking food from his “children’s mouth.”

I know another friend who got on the wrong side of the law for cutting corners with his business.

For trying to get rich fast by meeting dodgy men in broken suits in dark dodgy bars. For promising heaven to clients and delivering sand in a sack.

One of my closest confidants told me, “this friend of yours, he must be doing something else to support his lifestyle because I don’t see this business of his being enough to live how he does.”


And I said no way, he is legit, you don’t know him like I do, you are just being cynical. Why do you judge people like that? She didn’t say anything.

Now when the law hauled him in jail, this friend never said a word. She just said, “you need to take time to trust people.” Which goes to show that women see through character better than we do.

I’m all for entrepreneurship, and we all should support each other.

If I’m a painter, and you are my friend, I would expect you to buy my painting even if you don’t care about art.

Hell, hang it in your toilet. If you open a car wash, I will bring my car for a wash.

If you opened a vet clinic, I will ask people I know who have dogs to bring their dogs there so you check their temperatures.

I have a book, for instance, I would expect my friends to all buy it, even if it’s a terrible book. (It’s not, I swear).

But support comes with responsibility. Nobody has money to play with so if you are a friend and you are being supported by friends, you have to come through.

You have to take that transaction seriously. You should not think the support is your right. You should not take advantage of the friendship to offer substandard services.

This symbiosis goes both ways. And when things go pear shaped because you did not meet your end of the bargain, you can’t whine and talk about your children.