As anyone familiar with Wild Friends might imagine, Erika and I spend a LOT of time together.
Not only is Erika my best friend, business partner, running buddy and (basically) adopted sister, but she is also my roommate. We’ve lived, worked, exercised, and socialized side-by-side pretty much non-stop for the past five years. So… we know each other pretty darn well by now.
Lots of people compare business partnership to a sort of marriage — and they wouldn’t be too far off the money. It’s absolutely a committed, complex, relationship. Anyone who has ever started a business or worked on an extended project with one other person can understand the myriad of complications involved.
One of the questions Erika and I get asked most often is how we have remained best friends while also juggling these other shared roles.
It’s not easy. We’ve had our ups and downs. But, ultimately, what’s been the key to our success is the same thing that an old married couple might tell you: maintaining great communication.
It is so important that both Erika and I stay excited and passionate about the business — that our dreams for the company and our dreams for ourselves are expressed and aligned. When we forget the big picture, it’s all too easy to get lost in the day to day boredom of our separate tasks and phone calls. That’s when our little frustrations filter to the top, and (as our friends and families can attest) when our “old married couple” bickering rises in frequency.
This is why I love our new yearly tradition of a “Founders’ Dinner” (which we kicked off last year in style at Ox, here in Portland). Of course, we love any excuse to go out to a fancy dinner (that Meals and Entertainment section on our balance sheet was looking a little low anyways, right?), but above all, it’s a really good feeling to be out with my best friend, talking about the business we started together. Just like the good old days, when it was just the two of us and a couple food processors, and we could spend hours just chatting about our big hopes and dreams. No to-do lists or cash flow discussions or meeting agendas, just a great conversation.
This year for our 2nd Annual Founders’ Dinner, we headed down the delicious, carnivorous route yet again — this time to Laurelhurst Market. In between bites of amazing deviled eggs, sautéed collard greens, clams, steak and a glass (or two) of wine, we talked about all kinds of things (I’d be lying if I said we stuck completely to the realm of business… we are best friends too, after all!), but, most importantly, had a big-picture conversation about our company.
Wild Friends is going through some major transitions right now, and Erika and I are also making some big leaps personally as well. Taking the time to get on the same page, get excited for the year, reflect on how far we’ve come, and talk about next steps together is so fun — and it reminds me why we’re on this crazy adventure in the first place.