The sense of accomplishment and personal pride you can have when going it alone and blazing a path of entrepreneurship can be thrilling. We all start businesses with that sense of adrenaline, but, when it comes to launching a business, can two heads be better than one?
In the case of my business partner, Wei Tsay, and I, and the launch of our new fashion line, Avantūr, the answer has been a resounding YES. We have two heads to think through business challenges—Will our design concept work? What should our branding be? What do you think of the quality of that manufacturer?—and four hands to get the work done.
But, now that you have a partner, how do you keep that partnership thriving? Consider these three tips to keep it on the right track:
1. Keep the lines of communication open
Talk, email, text, post, pin, tweet…and repeat, constantly! Good communication is the only way that you will stay aligned around the vision and the path to get there. Wei and I communicate in one fashion or another every day, whether it is just a quick touch base on our social media strategy or an hour-long phone call on how to identify the right production partner.
Especially in the early stages, this communication is critical. We both came to Avantūr with our own interpretation of the brand and a vision for what we wanted to create, and every conversation has brought our points of view closer together. Especially in the creative space, visuals should always be part of these conversations. For example, one person’s definition of color blocking may not match another’s, so take time to align. Wei and I have multiple Pinterest boards and share images all the time, which continues to bring our vision to life while ensuring it reflects both of our styles.
2. Accept feedback graciously, and give it just as you’d like to receive it. Remember, it’s a gift!
Turning your imagination into reality is not only an act of creativity but an act of pure bravery. You expose yourself to rejection, making yourself vulnerable to others’ opinions of what you think is beautiful and will be successful.
While your partner will be your biggest advocate, he is also your first stop for potential critique. However, if you get this sooner rather than later, from someone who you trust, you will be ahead of the game!
Creative output isn’t the only area ripe for feedback. Work and communication style can also be points of friction, but you owe it to each other to be direct on what you need to be an effective business partner. Be respectful of each other’s points of view but tough enough to ask the uncomfortable questions… and hope that your business partner will return that favor.
3. Be clear on roles and responsibilities
If you read the previous post on selecting a partner, then you know that ideally your partner’s skill sets complement your own. Roles and responsibilities will likely naturally fall out from that understanding. For example, as an MD at a social media agency, Wei has years of social media strategy under his belt, so I trust his expertise in this domain. As a business leader with financial services expertise, he trusts me to sort out our financing and business planning. Together, we are exploring a new domain for us both–production–and we are learning together every day!
When it comes time to actually get the work done in our respective domains, we make clear commitments to each other, including actions and due dates. Not only does this ensure our venture remains on track, but it also demonstrates the respect we have for each other’s time and commitment to Avantūr.
The old saying “you get what you put into it” applies to the relationships supporting your business just as it does to the products you deliver. Invest the time to make it work!
Image by: Flourish and Thrive