No matter the type of relationship, communication is key in having a healthy, successful one. When it comes to running a business with a partner, which, in our case is a running business, an ongoing lack in communication can cause irreparable harm. Not to mention, the business and its surrounding relationships to suffer - if it goes unchanged.
Our relationship evolved over the years from acquaintances through a mutual friend, to friends and running buddies (“sole-mates” as we say), to business partners. Before our company, bRUNch Running, ever came to fruition, we met up for runs either in the morning or after work to blow off some steam and chat about our lives, building a foundation of friendship with each other. At that time, it seemed like we communicated flawlessly. We had no problems at a friendship level, and it was only after we became business partners that our ability to communicate faltered.
Business partnerships require just as much hard work, intention, and consideration of the other person as any other relationship.
Each action in a partnership has a reaction, and sometimes it isn’t always positive one, especially with a lapse in communication. Over time, this void can cause a sense of resentment or a “what’s the point?” mentality. We must continually remember that a partnership is not just about “you” or “I”, but ”we” and “us”. Because when this team oriented mindset inadvertently slips away from us, it creates friction.
On more than one occasion, the two of us felt so defeated we considered parting ways, simply because we weren’t openly expressing ourselves to one another. Our ability to communicate with each other had become lost. But once we took time to address everything we had avoided, we were finally able to express our frustrations, and in turn resolve our issues. Sometimes all it takes is honesty to be reminded that as partners, we will always support and respect each other unconditionally - even when we disagree.
In our current company culture, we do not make any decisions that have potential to change the dynamics of the business without running it by the other. This means if we want to launch in a new market, we both have to mutually decide on which one. Or if we want to hire a contractor, we both have to see the need for it. So often we have realized that when we are able to stay on the same page, reaching our common goal of growing the company and seeing that it succeeds comes with much more fluidity.
When you do hit a wall with your partner or team, take a step back. Lay everything out on the table, and work through the issue slowly. Just because one person thinks they have a good idea and are excited about moving forward on it, doesn’t mean it is the right decision to. In a business, there are so many aspects to consider - timing, resources, and profit just to name a few.
By putting emphasis on open communication, not only does your company run smoothly, it allows the individual to be more invested in the business as a whole.
As the years have gone by, our business relationship has had its growing pains that began to creep into our friendship - and we took notice. We drew boundaries to create a balance between our work life, personal life, and friendship. Because in the end, we have always agreed that our friendship comes first. After all, our business would have never existed without it.
So, if you are considering starting a business with someone, friend or not, know there are some important questions you will both need to answer before getting into the grit of running a company together. Think about who will handle media interviews? What about company purchases and travel? Business hours? Company culture? Responsibilities? Will you work from the same place? If not, how often will you meet? The list goes on. You will have challenges and it will be hard, but if you keep communication at the center, your lives and business will thrive.
Remember daily that you are on this adventure together, and much of what you do will be a learning experience for both of you. A partnership is all about being on the same team, and working to accomplish the same goals. At the end of the day, reaching them is so much sweeter when you have your teammate alongside you to celebrate with.
Photos by: Eun Creative