I Want To Hire my Friend, How To Go About It?

In Startups usually co-founders and leadership roles come through reference or sometimes they are well known friends.

While this is good, sometimes when they are not in the same page it hurts much more for all parties concerned. And those scenarios rarely end amicably.

Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge.


Apart from being well known and having trust, why would you want to bring the other person in?

For the other person, what is the driving reason behind joining your startup?

These two questions are equally important. Unless there is conviction in both the answers one should not proceed further. Being well known and knowing how each work is not enough to know if there would be sustainable energy and motivation to work togather in the new venture.

Only when both agree that is there is mutual benefit, they should plan to move ahead.

Skill Set

The next thing to consider is What is the skill set your friend is bringing in.  Skill set does not have to be totally complementary.

Sometimes there is a need for someone to take over from you some of the responsibilities. At that time it is still a good fit. If the skill set is different and there is a need for that, then again you already have a right fit.

When the skill set is redundant then you really need to think through if it would work. Because you are creating a role that is not necessary and it may not be satisfying for the other person also.

Be very clear on the skill set fit before moving further.


Next comes the aspiration part, when someone is moving to a startup the long term aspiration plays an important role.

It is important to know what is the long term aspiration of the person. This is a very good indicator on what they expect from this experience. If the aspiration and the role are aligned it helps them to stay motivated. If the role is different then it may not be an ideal transition. Then you may have to relook at the collaboration.

Compensation and Equity

Probably the most important aspect that you need to be discussed in detail. When somone known wants to join a startup usually the compensation is discussed vaguely and decided that it can be flexible.

This turns out to be a big mistake if the expectations are different. And it always helps to be very open and transparent about this. The devil is always in the details.

Discuss how much you can offer and the equity terms if applicable. Be clear on how the compensation might get impacted if there is dependency on further funding. Be open and talk about their own financial status for next few years especially if they are taking a paycut.

Always give time for the other person to think twice about the terms before committing. This period helps them make a sound decision.

Time Commitment

Be very clear on a minimum commitment you expect for this role. This also makes them think long term. If they are looking for a short gig, then this may not be beneficial.

Make sure they understand the commitment and are fine with staying even if things take time to work out.

Talk About Non Glamorous Stuff

Sometimes being part of startup appears cool. Most mundane stuff are not talked about. So, talk about the issues, day to day uncertainties, compromises you have encountered and you will. This gives a better picture about the work and helps them decide if they are up to be part of the ride.

Job Description

Chalk out clear job description and use that to discuss the responsibilities. Looking for core skills, complementary skills and aspiration that align with the need you have. Make this detailed so that there is not any ambiguity.

Use this as a final step to confirm from both the sides that they are in same page and they can move ahead.

Make Things Formal

Now, follow whatever process you have on hiring. Just because it is a friend joining does not mean formal process can be ignored.

Have all necessary documents shared, have equity related documents shared and signed off. Ask for formal approvals and other documents needed by HR.

Celebrate the Start of the Journey

Things could become different from the previous relationship with new work agreement. So have a casual talk once once you friend is on boarded to make it easy to start the new journey.