Help some buddies form a biz together. No buddy bands.
June 27, 2014 6:09 PM   Subscribe

I pretty much only have 2 non-family friends but i am really close with those two friends. We are all low to mid 30s living in different cities in the southeast. Two of us are lawyers, the third is in sales. None of us are breaking the bank but we live comfortably. The problem is (1) we dont work together and (2) none of are particularly in love with our jobs. We have been talking about forming a business together for years but we have thought of any idea as sad as that sounds. We just need some practical but that we could do together. It would be a side gig for us all unless it got big enough to replace our current jobs (the ultimate goal). Looking for suggestions on business ideas or just importantly suggestions on where to find some business ideas. They do not have to be sexy biz ideas but i should say we would probably not be interested in paid blogging, or similar 'work from home' business ideas. I would appreciate any thoughts! Best
posted by frednorton to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it were me I would figure out what passions the individuals shared. Then I would look for ways that we could be facilitators in some way. Because if you are passionate about something it will feel less like a job, which you already have, and more like a quest or a vision. And if you are facilitators you can evolve your services in a way that matches the needs that exist, as opposed to coming up with "big idea" from the start. Your engagements, and even the contracts you don't win, will inform you of where you can inject your vision and enthusiasm. Or maybe that's just my dream job and it doesn't really exist. But you said "any thoughts".
posted by forthright at 7:03 PM on June 27, 2014

Response by poster: I mean we dont have unlimited funds by any means but we have some upfront money, just need ideas with what to do with it. We will form the fair to everyone with buyout provisions, etc, if it ever looks like it is going to hurt friendships. Im confident in saying that our 1 goal is to work together on something that is at least our own and can move on from there. Any thoughts or recs on how to get some business ideas? Again, doesnt have to be sexy. Ty
posted by frednorton at 7:08 PM on June 27, 2014

Response by poster: Forthright - we are all in the same spot pretty much. Landed where we landed and now dont really mnow what would be interesting. Rather more of what is not interesting to us. But we are all pretty much the same person.
posted by frednorton at 7:11 PM on June 27, 2014

One way to approach this is to get together and discuss what products you each purchase, the services you consume, and the places you see gaps in provision. In other words, what are the things you always wished someone would sell/make/do?

But honestly, this sounds like a really terrible plan unless you all are (1) committed to a concept, and (2) equally passionate about it (otherwise one of the three of you is going to slack and make the other two resentful).
posted by yellowcandy at 7:55 PM on June 27, 2014

Response by poster: A creditor transactional attorney, a defense litigator, and a salesman of military supplies.
posted by frednorton at 8:35 PM on June 27, 2014

But honestly, this sounds like a really terrible plan unless you all are (1) committed to a concept, and (2) equally passionate about it (otherwise one of the three of you is going to slack and make the other two resentful).


I can not think of a less promising future business than one that none of the three owners are excited about. "We want to work together" is not going to be much of a motivator when you're pissed off because of some interpersonal conflict that you will invariably have. The business idea has to be important.

That goes double if you're all going to keep working your day jobs.

This will not end well for at least one (probably three) of you.
posted by toomuchpete at 9:04 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, this? "Looking for suggestions on business ideas or just importantly suggestions on where to find some business ideas"

Are you kidding me? There are three professionals and none of you has a single business idea? There's not a single thing in your city that you've thought "I can do this better than [shitty business] does it!" No "Man, we could make a fortune if we [produced some marvelous invention]!" Not even "There ought to be a [fast food restaurant] downtown!"

You may be the three people on earth least suited to start a new business.
posted by toomuchpete at 9:08 PM on June 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Ouch. Maybe so. We are all smart people just maybe lacking an entreuprenual spirit as we are all pretty conservative (not politically i mean taking risks). I think the point though would be to do something together and we all agree that would be at least more fun than what we are doing now.
posted by frednorton at 9:18 PM on June 27, 2014

Response by poster: I will say though, i am not worried about it 'not ending well'. We may be lacking the business idea but we certainly know how to draft org docs to address every plausible situation.
posted by frednorton at 9:29 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unusual Business Ideas That Work is a site that should give you some inspiration.
posted by Sophont at 11:28 PM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take up a hobby together. Go on long walks in the countryside or build a log cabin or something. Let work be what it's for: to provide a means for you to live a satisfying life outside work - with family and, yes, friends.

Starting a business together is a pretty good recipe for losing one or both of your only two non-family friends, no matter how good you are at drafting org docs. This is aside from the viability of your business itself.

Moreover, this applies even if all three of you are equally committed, entrepreneurial and knowledgeable about your business plan rather than simply dissatisfied with your day jobs.

If you simply want the experience of working with people you like and your day jobs allow a measure of flexibility you could rent a shared office space and work from there regularly. I have done this with a close friend and it worked well as long as we were disciplined about respecting each other's workload.
posted by tavegyl at 2:00 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lots of stuff at, such as this or this.
posted by emkelley at 3:59 AM on June 28, 2014

Actually, taking that upfront money and buying some land, then building a cabin entirely by hand sounds like a great idea for three friends sick of their jobs to do something together.

Work to live, not live to work is my kind of philosophy though.
posted by aggyface at 4:12 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

You all are thinking that you'd like to do a business together, but you're not in the same city, and you're not really sure what that might be. Guys, really, terrible idea.

Now, I do have a notion that might be up your alley, it's only nominally a really the only kind of business that makes sense for y'all.

Buy a vacation property, spend weekends, vacations and holidays fixing it up, and then rent it out.

Figure out what southern vacation destination is reasonably equidistant between you.

Gatlinburg, TN
Myrtle Beach, SC
Asheville, NC
Savannah, GA
Tybee Island, GA
Biloxi, MS

Whatever it is. Beach or mountains.

Find a property that you can enjoy yourselves, and rent out during the season. You want something you can all afford, and that has some cosmetic ugliness that you can fix with paint and DIY projects.

You can spend weekends painting, installing new light fixtures, tiling floors, flea marketing for furnishings, and at the end of it, you'll have a fun place to go to so you all can spend time together, as well as a place that you can rent out by the week.

If you find you enjoyed the process, and if the thing starts generating positive cashflow, then you can buy another property and do that one.

If it doesn't work out, or you don't like the property, or whatever, then put it on the market and walk away. You have a decent chance of breaking even, or not losing your ass in that instance. Just don't start spending Taj Mahal money on a joint in Fernandina Beach, FL and this plan should hold up.

Check out to see the kinds of places there are and prices they're asking for.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on June 28, 2014 [8 favorites]

As someone who owns a mult million dollar business and has given friends a chance, I agree, this is a horrible idea. I've had two outcomes: one 20-year friend who sucked at his job and I had to gently let go (guess how that friendship is going?) and another who did great in sales but got a big head and decided that I was a dick if I didn't give him 25% owner equity in my company.

In the spirit of answering your original question, though, here's my idea. Pool your money together... let's say $50k. Put yourself out there as venture capital investors and loan the money out at 15% interest to an entrepreneur who has a passion and a great plan. Things to avoid would be anybody who is looking to manufacture or otherwise fund something with no customers and nothing sold before investing in product. "I want to open an online store", "I want to open a retail action figure and ornamental sword shop." "i have an awesome product/invention and I want to make a bunch of widgets with no idea if they'll sell"

The smart business plans secure a purchase order before moving forward and just need money to fill an order.

After you fund your first job and make a nice profit, do it again and again until you have your own little shark tank going, which sounds like something three buddies would have a great time with.
posted by PSB at 7:43 AM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

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