16 Aug Partnerships Multiply the Power of Two
Lean into Your Strengths and onto Each Other
Partnerships provide a powerful multiplier effect. From the Wright Brothers to Bill Hewlett and David Packard, some of the world’s greatest innovations and insights were direct results of the effective give and take from the partnerships.
Yet despite all of the benefits, working partnerships can be some of the most difficult relationships to forge and maintain. The story of failed unions is all too common. We didn’t want that to happen to Blue Vines Events. That’s why we paid careful attention to our steps.
A New Chapter—Maybe an Entire Book …
Starting out, we didn’t really see an abundance of role models, especially locally and especially two females. (That might be the only under-served topic in the current flood of business books). In fact, 90% of women-owned businesses have no other employees. But we were committed and sure that it would work, or maybe more importantly, decided that this was what we wanted to do.
Here are four things that we learned along the way.
1. Know Your Partner
Although entrepreneurs at heart, Marla and I started out as co-workers at a local advertising agency. As we began to know each other we formed a ‘work friendship’ through our common challenges. Eventually, that led to sharing our thoughts about what it would be like to run our own business, and what we would do differently. We’ve both come from backgrounds of volunteering, and contributing to our communities. We wanted to be in business, but our goal was never going to te to make another sale and move on. We wanted to work with a purpose. Those are the things that we had in common, but it was over a year before we decided to make Blue Vines Events a reality.
2. Ensure Your Values Align
We are two very different people but have a lot in common when it comes to our values. What really matters to us is our faith, family, integrity, and community—in that order. We have a deep-rooted faith that guides our decision making. Our differences make us strong as a business, but our values are what keep us together and lead us forward. That can be hard when you’re trying to grow a business. But we’ve done it. Last year we did an event for a company that we could probably have gotten additional work from. But when we were done, we looked at each other and said, you know what, we don’t like how that person operates so let’s drop them from our list.
3. Keep Space and Share Perspective
We’re not best friends. That surprises a lot of people, but that’s intentional. Like any good marriage, you need some separateness and time to yourself. Then when you are together we have fresh ideas, things we’ve seen and stories to share. But we are there for each other. I think Michael Jackson said it best: “whenever you need me, I’ll be there.” That’s really been true for both of us. Being with our family is a big part of why we do this and work to accommodate each other’s family needs.
4. Commit to the Cause and your Partner
When we got serious about this venture we created a plan and a name and we were off. But first, we agreed to partner up legally. We got a good lawyer and insurance. We talked about all of the potential things that could happen: from retirement to family changes to anything we could think of. And then we put it in writing. Those were some long hard conversations, but it’s actually been reassuring now. It helps to eliminate surprises. We tell our clients to begin with the end in mind, and we applied that to our business as well.
That’s our story in a nutshell. If you have any stories or examples of business partnerships, especially among women, we’d love to hear about it! Reach out via email through our contact us form or Twitter or facebook.
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