Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds
As many are aware, one of the companies I am involved in has 4 main members (owners)...including myself.. we often disagree on the strategies we employ or tactics we use to make the almighty dollar. We are currently involved in a few projects that keep us quite busy.. In the not too distant past we disagreed on everything from the mundane day to day operations of the company to big decisions; which understandably could change the direction we intended on taking. We finally agreed to disagree and decided that one person, within a set boundary, would make the small decisions (under 1K) without interference or questioning of the other members. Of course, everything done would be subject to audit, but for the most part, the one person could run the company without having to get permission on everything and be subject to the barrage of disagreements that so often accompanied our past activities and crippled our progress.
Recently we employed one of the two members mutual friends to help us do some work at one of the company's properties. It was my personal understanding that we would compensate this person for the time he had put into the project, whether he was actually useful or not (which he was, very much so). I was of the opinion that he was performing a service for something that we intended on making money from in the future and he needed to be justly compensated. In addition, this person gives us a discount and other perks at a store that we frequent and spend a substantial amount of money.
My partner disagreed with my feelings on the matter. His position is he was "doing it as a friend" and was also knowingly engaging in a barter transaction between himself and my partner... because our friend had wanted him to do some computer work, for which my partner is quite knowledgeable. He also bought our mutual friend lunch the 2 or three times he was working with us and paid his bar tab of approximately $15-$20 at a bar the three of us frequent. This was a one time event. I would estimate our friend spent aproximately 10-15 hours working with us on a revenue generating activity we as a company are engaged in. I broke it down to look like this: Our friend spent 10 to 15 hours on a project for 2 value meals and a $20 bar tab.. and the hopes that his computer will be repaired.. Does this seem fair to you? It just does not strike me as being a good idea... I feel our friend has gotten the short end of the stick.
I am almost certain he would much rather have gotten paid $8 to $10 an hour and made the decision himself whether he wanted a value meal or attended a night out on the town.. or even had someone else fix his computer...
My question for the masses is: When is bartering a good idea? Also, how far can you stretch the concept of "being a good friend" to help you out.... I feel in this case someone ended up being the loser.. and it wasn't my partner. Had our friend been doing something for us personally, such as helping us with our home or another personal endeavor, I would not have near as a problem with the circumstances.. but given he was performing a task for a revenue generating entity, I feel he actually expected to get paid.. though he tells my partner that was not the case. Given the brief commentary at the beginning on our decision making policies, is it best for me to let the 2 of them work it out and not interfere or should I step up to the plate for our friend? It is quite unsettling to me and I would love to hear peoples' opinions on the matter.