Let's talk about business partnerships today k?
If you are new to this blog, I co-own The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery with my bff, Ashleigh.
Here are a few things I thought might help or interest some folks. I call them my Rules to Successful Partnership 101.
- What assets do YOU bring to your partnership?
Really stop and think about this. An asset can be money, skills, a particular talent, etc. In our partnership, Ashleigh brings all her graphic design knowledge and creativity. I know *nothing* about computers, I can resize my photos and that's pretty much it. Without her computer skills, there would be no PDFs, no cute store front, nothing. What do I bring to the partnership? Years of self employment experience, social media connections, and the ability to be the public figure in our business. I manage our finances, work on our facebook page, work on emails and promote our patterns. The point is, for a successful partnership to work, you HAVE to bring something to the table constantly and consistently. Otherwise, you or the other person could just be in business alone!
- Get the what if's in WRITING!
No seriously, get it in writing. One of the most common mistakes businesses make is they put the businesses successes first and don't provide an answer to the WHAT IF's. What if: we get into a fight and hate each other? What if: an accident happens and we can't work? What if: something tragic happens to one of us? Yeah, those are all things we'd rather not think about but you know what? One afternoon of thinking it out, coming up with scenarios and writing out a PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT and we feel amazing about the future. I'd be crushed if the business dissolved, but there is no guessing or trying to figure out who gets what. It's already done and taken care of. We've already decided that. No stress. And we wrote all 38 pages of our partnership agreement so if the business fails, our friendship can stay in tact. And my friendship is WAY more important than the business. There are many partnership agreement templates online, we found a basic one and edited it to death so BOTH of us would be protected. This isn't because we don't trust each other, it's the opposite, we are doing it to protect each other. And most banks require you to have a partnership agreement on file before you can have a joint business account. Our partnership agreement was overlooked by a lawyer, a banker, our accountant and our small business adviser and they ALL said it incredibly through. Trust me, take the time to discuss the what if's and get it in writing.
When your business is your full time job, your only means of income and you basically live & breathe your work, you NEED to trust the other person. It just has to happen that way. I am the least trusting and most jaded person ever (sad but true!) so for me to just let go and trust in Ashleigh is huge. But it's worked and it's been great. We are completely 100% transparent with each other, we share EVERYTHING with no hidden ulterior motives. Small details like "oh I have to go do this and this today" to big details like "uhh I have a huge hospital bill hanging over my head that is stressing me out". It helps us know where the other person is coming from. By constantly sharing things, your on the same page and the goals are the same. One of us is always working on our set tasks, if one of us is concerned about something, we address it. Always.
- Be realistic about your personality.
That's weird to type but it's true. I'm a work-a-holic who wants everything done YESTERDAY. I have absolutely no patience for drama, girl games or lackadaisical behavior. I set the bar ridiculously high for myself. I know these things about myself & I highly doubt I could work well with anyone other than Ashleigh. I need to know the status of everything, what our fiances look like, what our schedules are, what our goals are, what she's working on, what I'm working on, our next 6 months, etc. I am an obsessive person. And I know because of this a lot of people find me cold and overbearing because I'm brutally direct & to the point. Our partnership works because Ashleigh is very laid back, she's not dramatic or gossipy, she's an *incredibly* hard worker and she wants this to succeed as much as I do. She's just as driven as I am, I have to tell her to get sleep and to take time off, she's notorious for working herself into the ground. And she tells me to simmer down sometimes and I need that because I get all anxious and riled up. It's a balance. It's SO important that you are honest with yourself about who you really are as a person, I know that sounds silly but it's true.
- Partnership means just that. PARTNERS.
This is a big one. A partnership is between two people. In a lot of ways partnership is like marriage. I *never* complain or speak ill of Chop. To anyone. Ever. To me, that's a huge violation of trust. And it's rude. We all have little quirks that can drive each other crazy but you'll never find me posting it on facebook or whatever. Partnership is the same, if Ashleigh does something that drives me nuts, I talk to HER about it (I don't think this has ever even happened to be honest-she's truly the easiest person to get along with), not everyone else. And she does the same for me. There isn't room in a partnership for other people. If one of us makes a mistake, we both take the blame and consequences. No one stands alone. We don't talk about money with anyone, we don't talk about numbers unless they are someone who needs to know or can offer advice. What happens with the Pumpkins, stays between the Pumpkins. The end.
- Utilize technology. Work smarter, not harder.
I'm a big fan of being organized. We each have an iPad for work and our calendars are synced so we know where we stand with projects, our goals for releasing new patterns, when our taxes are due, the schedules for new patterns, tracking our mileage, the deadlines for us and our pattern testers. It's a lot of little details that have to fit together like a puzzle to create the bigger picture. We each have flash drives that contain all the same files, I know that doesn't sound like a big deal but Ashleigh uses four software programs to create our patterns and if something goes haywire, we'd be LOST. I'm in the process of switching from QuickBooks to FreeAgent because it's so much easier and smarter. Find apps that allow you to multitask. I'm always searching out ways to just work better and more smoothly. Don't ever think that there is just *one* way to do things, research it because you might find something that works so much easier for you!
Whenever Ashleigh & I say goodbye at the end of a day of work, I always hug her and thank her for her hard work. She does things that I don't even understand and sometimes I feel like she's speaking a different language of file sizes, vectors and whatever else. I couldn't do this without her. I told you guys how we recently celebrated Friendship Day because sometimes you HAVE to schedule in some fun! It just makes work so much better. We also look for any excuse to celebrate with treats, for example after we've completed 5 weeks of a sampler, we'll go out to lunch and talk about what went awesome and what didn't. Or buy new sock yarn. It's important to celebrate the little things because the little things help a business become BIG! Plus, who doesn't love a nice GF Lemon Bar?! We do!!! And while we work really hard, we don't take ourselves too seriously. Because how can you be super serious when you design pumpkin cupcakes with eyeballs & want to cover everything in glitter?!
ps: that curly haired girl is Ashleigh. She's pretty internet shy but look at that hair! My hair is obnoxiously straight, I'm always threatening to shave her head so I can wear her hair as a wig. I'm kind of creeeeeeeepy! ;)