As a small business owner, tapping into your personal network of family and friends as potential employees can seem like a great idea. You know these people well, they want to see you succeed and they may even already have an understanding of your product or service. But hiring your college buddy, best friend, sibling, child or parent is not without its potential pitfalls. Before extending a job offer to someone close to home, consider these questions.

  • Can you effectively manage this person? Will your personal relationship get in the way of your professional one? Will you be able to look at their work objectively?
  • Are you willing to blur the line between your work life and your personal life by hiring a relative or friend? If you feel it is important to maintain a boundary between the two, how will you do it?
  • Will this person respect your authority? Will he or she accept your position as their superior? Can you see yourself discipling them?
  • Will this person expect certain freedoms or perks because of their relationship with you? Will they assume that their input will be given more weight than that other employees because of their relationship with you?
  • Can you handle the possibility of having to letting this person go? How will this affect your relationship? If it ends poorly, is this a risk you’re willing to take?

Another consideration when hiring family or friends is the impact it will have on the rest of your staff. Whether or not it’s true, other employees may assume that your friend or relative is being given preferential treatment, opportunities or promotions that they haven’t earned. Nepotism is defined as favoritism granted to relatives or close friends without regard to their merit. Even if nepotism isn’t actually happening, but only perceived by your staff, it can quickly cause resentment. And with that environment brewing, morale and productivity will take a nose dive.

You may have staff members who feel they cannot say anything critical of your family and friend to you, impeding honest communication on matters you may really need to know. Your relative or friend may even feel distanced from other employees, if staff members feel like what they say will be reported back to the boss.

The bottom line? Before making a job offer to a relative or friend, think carefully about how this decision could impact your personal relationship with that person and also how it might ultimately affect your business..

Susan Bryant is a writer and editor who enjoys working on diverse subject matter and collaborating on interesting projects. She can be contacted at