The NETWORK for The Core DJ Syndicated Radio Show
"A ready way to lose your friend is to lend him money. Another equally ready way to lose him is to refuse to lend him money. It is six of one and a half dozen of the other."
- George Jean Nathan
It goes without saying that friends and money don't go hand-in-hand. I don't care how chummy you are, how close you are or how many hookers you've shared with a friend; when it comes to money, friendships are always put aside and ego comes into play. When you're talking about money or a favor with some kind of financial value, it never ends well. They say a favor will kill you faster than a bullet. "They" are right.
I've seen it a hundred times in my life. Two gentlemen, two friends, two stand-up guys, godfathers to each other's children, turn from blood brothers to deadly enemies. Why? Because one guy had money that belonged to the other, whether it was loaned or part of a business deal.
Even if you have old ties or years of friendship under your belt, it's all forgotten and disregarded when one guy feels he's getting a raw deal. When it comes to the green monster, the rules among friends get suspended on a meat hook.
So, let's take a look at two scenarios that could destroy a friendship when you mix money and friends.
Yes, the quickest way to lose a friend is by lending him money. People rarely keep their word. I have little faith in human nature and, as a result, I operate accordingly. Even among wiseguys, I rarely trust anyone, even someone who has taken a bullet for me.
I've learned that lending money to a "friend" results in one of two outcomes:
Outcome No. 1: You come to realize that you are actually gifting money to a friend instead of lending it, because he doesn't have any intention of paying you back and you are not willing to go the distance to get it back. In this outcome, you come out holding nothing more than your testicoli.
Outcome No. 2: You get your money and lose your friend, because through a combination of nagging, harassment and threatening, you made the lowlife actually return to you what was rightfully yours, but at the expense of calling his wife a headless cow. You're holding your cash (and your testicoli), but you've just lost a friend who doesn't understand why you're mad at him. On the other hand, this is the same friend who backed out of a promise and an understanding you had with him, so how valuable a friend is he in the first place?
Read on for more reasons not to mix money and friends...
You say no. If you're a pathetic pushover who can't help but help people who have no self-control, here's some advice:
Another classic scenario: You go into business with your best buddy and everything is fine and dandy in the beginning when you're setting up shop. Then you achieve either success or failure. In either case, you are going to be backing into each other's corners, protecting your territory, each blowing up your contribution to the business' success or your lack of responsibility for its failure.
In either case, money is going in or out of your pockets and you care more about your bank accounts than the unforgettable weekend in Mexico that solidified your friendship when you banged a dozen locals together.
Someone always gets bloodied. If you both strike it rich and you have enough cash to buy yourself a private island, the problems only escalate because with more money, there's more at stake. You'd think a guy who was rich enough to clean his arse with Benjamins wouldn't waste his time hassling his partner on a successful racket, but it's the opposite.
Every little point could mean thousands of dollars, so when the pot is big, everyone is going to go to war to protect it.
If the business fails, you'll have fingers pointing in every direction, your friend will be asking why his children can't eat anymore and why the repo man took his '57 Mustang. And if he loves that Mustang, he will look for every scapegoat under the sun because he needs to blame someone -- and he'll start with his "best bud."
So, my advice is to avoid going into business with friends. That can't always be avoided, so I'm gonna give you a few pieces of advice that will save you future migraines...
Be aware that, from day one, you are kissing your friendship goodbye. Somewhere, somehow, things will come up and you will stop being drinking buddies. And more often than you think, a new girlfriend or wife will poison the well. Two associates of mine got along and had a successful business for almost a decade until they both got married. The wives hated each other, they started whispering in their husbands' ears about how special they were as opposed to the other guy and bada bing, bada boom, their successful business shut down. And it was a good thing they had going, not some dinky 7-Eleven.
Anything that needs to be signed should be signed before you open your business. I'll take a baseball bat to anyone who backs out of his word, but you might not find that to be your easiest solution. When you're starting out, everyone's willing to sign anything. When the money starts showing up at the breakfast table, everyone starts looking after their own turf, and you're screwed if you try to put pen to paper on your verbal commitments from back in the day.
Don't make assumptions. Always make clear who does what, who is responsible for what and what everyone's take is. Like I said before, when there's money on the table, idealism goes out the window.
If the guy you're going into business with is a great friend but is also a wiseguy or is connected, don't even think of moving ahead with anything. We operate in a different spectrum. We can open doors for you, facilitate certain kinds of transactions and generate cash flow, but it all has a cost. You don't want to know what that is. So turn around and go back to your playground.
A friend wants you to lend him money or go into business with you. Tell him: "I love you too much to do that." He'll laugh, you'll laugh. Buy him a drink and change the subject -- then hope he forgets that silly idea. Friends want to rep the benefits because they are your FRIEND but won't put in the work for the benefits
Watch your backs and keep your noses clean.