Dear Matthew: Should I go into practice with a friend?

Written by: Matthew Turner
Published on: 12 Mar 2014

BD’s agony uncle weighs up whether it’s best to set up a practice with a friend or a colleague

Question: I want to set up my practice, and since uni a friend has always talked about us having a practice together. But basically I have had colleagues more recently with whom I think I would have a much better working relationship.

In fact we are quite far progressed in planning our practice.

He is a great friend, and I don’t want to hurt him, yet I feel I am letting him down by not involving him.

Answer: Of the people I know who run practices, two have independently said to me how little they realised the commitment at the outset — in fact one said it felt more of a bind than his marriage.

After all, after a couple of decades, your reputation and livelihood are completely intertwined and invested, which is not usually the case for marriages.

So I really take my hat off to those who make a practice work.

Like relationships, a lot of the success I think is being able to effectively communicate. Also vital when running a business is to have complementary skills. Successful partners often excel at different things, such as job winning, technical knowledge, and so on.

Perhaps your friend is similar to you, that is why you are friends. Of course you need to be on good terms with your business partners, but perhaps what is best to succeed as an architectural outfit is to have contrasting approaches, not only getting on.

So weighing it up, I would really avoid confusing friendship with business. It might be an uncomfortable conversation, but it sounds like you know in your gut what you should say.

Maybe point out that you do not want to involve him precisely because you value him enough that you don’t want to jeopardise your friendship.

Architect Matthew Turner of has worked at a range of offices as well as being a client adviser, project manager and competition juror

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