Fabian Pfortmüller on How to Respect Business Partner Friendships

In Chapter 14 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, community builder and entrepreneur Fabian Pfortmüller answers "What Has Been Most Challenging About Building a Business With Friends?"  He notes how working with friends brings together two worlds of decisions.  Pfortmüller notes the importance of both staying objective and being considerate that people are changing and appreciating that change is key.  Pfortmüller is co-founder of the young leader accelerator, Sandbox Network, and HOLSTEE, an apparel and design firm that sells meaningful products to mindful shoppers.  Pfortmüller graduated from Columbia University and its school of General Studies. 


Erik Michielsen: What has been most challenging about building a business with friends?

Fabian Pfortmüller: Working with friends can get very challenging if you have to take tough decisions and sometimes those decisions might affect some of us personally and in those moments it’s just not easy to be very objective and to, you know, like pretend that you’re not a human being and that you don’t know each other, that you’re not like, like each other.

I found it also challenging in the way that I have to force myself to learn about the person all the time. Business partners are changing as well. Business partners are growing as well and you have to accept that and you have to keep moving with them and the Erik from last year is not the Erik from now. You can’t have one fixed picture of the other person in mind.

I would say sometimes when you’re very close with your business partners, it’s also important you just give them their freedom and their space. You know, if the other person is in a relationship, they need time for themselves and even though the business might be going crazy, that is something very important in their lives and respecting that, understanding that, and maybe not pushing them too hard at that moment is super important.