Another BA 101 lesson! I think Sundays are a good day for dubious education from college dropouts — don’t you?
Today’s post is a subject near and dear to my heart: Business Partners.
First of all, humblebrag: I have the best business partner in the world.
This is a combination of luck, hard work, and good communication… it’s like a good marriage. (I could extend that into a company = baby metaphor, but I won’t).
Also, like marriage, the “perfect” business partner is different for every person and every business. Even though what works for us might not work for everyone, I’ve learned a lot from being one half of a successful partnership.
A good business partner… really believes in the company.
Right from the beginning, Erika has been the spirit and driving force of Wild Friends. As soon as we made a jar of peanut butter, there was no doubt in her mind that we had made something delicious and worthy of customer dollars. Her belief has always given me confidence that the company was worth pursuing… even when it was just a couple of mason jars.
This might seem like a small thing, but it’s really not! Nothing has been more important to the growth of this company than strong belief from both of us that the company is worth the dedication. There will be times when you are feeling disenfranchised with everything about your company… when everything just sucks. A good business partner will be there for you to lift your spirits and remind you why your business is worth working for.
A good business partner… has an opposite skill set.
Looking back at that first day again, it was clear right from the start that Erika and I had very different skills. We made the peanut butter together — that was a total group effort. Then:
Erika told everyone she knew about our new company. She started posting on Facebook, interacting with all our friends, and getting excited about sending product to food bloggers.
I made a website, spent several hours on the phone with PayPal support, designed our labels, and started the hunt for a commercial kitchen.
There was very little discussion about this division of roles… it happened naturally as my logical side took over and Erika’s social butterfly self took flight.
In hindsight, we got lucky. This is an important conversation to have with any potential business partner: What roles do you see yourselves taking on immediately within the company? A year down the road? How about five years?
These are conversations Erika and I have constantly to make sure we’re never stepping on eachothers toes or leaving eachother out.
A good business partner… knows that if it’s business, it’s also personal.
Can’t stress this enough: EVERYTHING IS PERSONAL. Everything. (Especially when you’re working with your best friend and your roommate… but we are probably in extra-special circumstances over here.)
It’s important to be able to have conversations that make you feel vulnerable, share struggles within or outside of the business that are causing you stress, discuss personal relationship woes, etc.
Really, your business partner is the only other person going through exactly what you are, living the exact same entrepreneurial life, fighting the same fight. Being able to support you personally as well as professionally is going to be really important during those frantic problem-solving nights.
Plus, you’re definitely going to be stuck on a long car ride and flights with your business partner… No iPhones or work laptops allowed. So you better have lots of things to talk about. (Also, similar taste in podcasts/music… but that’s another story).