Posted 17 January 2022
Written by Samantha Hornsby
Mention Mae Yip
Mention ERIC

ERIC’s Samantha Hornsby on how to go into business with a friend (and stay friends)

Co-founders Samantha Hornsby and Mae Yip first met at primary school over twenty years ago. Fast becoming best friends, the pair would go on to become business partners, launching careers platform ERIC in 2017. Though the transition from friends to partners wasn’t without its challenges – the duo have since created spaces where emerging talent can take things into their own hands. As they prepare to launch the new ERIC app, Samantha reflects on the pair’s journey so far, sharing hard-won tips for other budding partners looking to follow a similar path.

Myself and Mae have been business partners for about eight years now, but have been best friends for 22 years! Growing up, we had a shared experience of terrible career advice at school, which meant that we both eventually ended up in jobs that not only did we not enjoy, but weren’t very good at, either. The processes for career advice in the education system hadn’t been updated for decades, and we decided to do something about that. So we started ERIC.

From festivals to an app

The first ERIC format was our alternative career fairs, ERIC Festivals. Focused on the creative industries, they were insanely colourful, exciting and experience-led. Since the pandemic, however, we’ve turned our attention to working on the ERIC app. It’s an ever-growing collection of all our favourite career advice content from across the web – articles, videos, podcasts, events – all pulled into one single app. It’s like a really well-organised career content library.

“The processes for career advice in the education system haven’t been updated for decades. We decided to do something about that.”

Creativelivesinprogress eric app samantha hornsby mae yip

Mae and Samantha

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The ERIC app

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Deciding to take the plunge into business
We had been talking about running a business together for years but were too scared to quit our jobs. For me, it was down to financial reasons and for Mae, it was fear of the unknown. But one day I was made redundant and I got a redundancy package, which I could use to pay for my salary for the first few months of working for myself. This was a huge factor in deciding that was the right time to start a business.

Mae was an accountant for [accounting firm] PWC, so she was on quite a high salary and had been able to save a fair amount of money, but she needed someone to persuade her to leave. Seeing that we could be in the situation together gave Mae the confidence to quit; it just felt like the right time and that all the stars had aligned.

Tips for starting your own business with a friend

If you’re thinking about making a similar leap and working with a friend, it’s useful to be aware of some of the benefits and challenges that come with doing so. We’ve listed some of our own observations and learnings below, as well as our top tips on how to work with a friend in the most effective and efficient way possible...

😄 Benefits:

  • Having someone to share the highs and also pick you up when you’re down is amazing. Sharing these moments together is an incredible privilege.
  • Having a permanent sounding board for ideas.
  • Being able to reference something about the business that is irritating you, without having to explain the entire backstory. Whenever you want to vent or rant about something to someone outside of the business, we often find it more frustrating because you have to spend too much time explaining the context around it!

😰 Challenges:

  • Having to make the transition from friends to business partners and learning new boundaries. You have to be able to have frank conversations with each other, and some of those conversations can be hard.
  • It takes time to understand that feedback from your friend about your work isn’t personal – it’s business!
  • Working out your different roles and strengths can take time, but it’s so much better when you know what your individual lanes are.

🕵️ Get to know yourself better

If you recognise your own positive and negative traits and analyse why you do things, or react in a certain way, you will be easier to work with. And you need to make yourself as easy to work with as possible, because you're going to be spending a lot of time together!

We highly recommend starting with free personality tests online – whether you believe in them or not, it's still fun to do! Look into the eight different intelligences, too, so you can open your mind to different natural skillsets. You can also look into the 12 steps of EQ and investigate how to observe your behaviours and reactions.

💬 Be open about your weaknesses

You have to be able to speak openly about what your shortcomings are (rather than defaulting to being defensive about these) and also be willing to identify elements of your working style that aren’t working for the other person. It’s not personal, everyone has weaknesses. You just have to be open about your own.

🗣 Actively work on your communication

This took us years to be able to do, but it’s definitely doable! It’s about learning to break through the communication barrier so that those conversations that were hard to have before become incredibly easy. We know we can raise anything with each other now, and neither will react badly. Every potentially difficult conversation is welcomed with open arms, because we both know it’s a safe space to bring up anything we want to talk about.

📚 Read up on resources

Rightfounder is a new community hub that champions relationships between founders, and lots of the founders featured on the ‘thoughts’ section are friends-turned-founders. They all give excellent advice about how to work with someone else.

The ERIC App has collected some amazing articles, podcasts and videos from across the internet about entrepreneurship.

Medium has loads of useful articles around entrepreneurship and there are certainly lots of posts about what it’s like running a business with a friend.


The ERIC app is available and free to access. You can download it for Android devices here and for iPhone devices here.

Written by Samantha Hornsby
Mention Mae Yip
Mention ERIC