Is Friendship Affected When You Become Business Partners?

Natalie Beaver
To use the dreaded answer that’s not really an answer, it depends.  In our case, the quick answer is no.  But that is not always the case, and it would certainly make sense for some to go solo in their business venture.  I can think of many reasons for starting a business on your own; however, I would like to focus on why being business partners works for Jamie and myself.  Perhaps some of you will be able to relate or even better, ask the right questions of one another if you are thinking about going into business together.
A little background is in order, so you can understand where Jamie and I were before Pinwheel Gift Company was created.  We met while working for the same company although different departments, and in fact, rarely, if ever did we actually work together.  Regardless, both of us were submerged in a corporate culture that upon looking back is hard for my brain to wrap around (did I do that?).  I’m not saying it was a terrible experience, I had many good years there, but it still meant investing time and energy in someone else’s vision.  Back to us.  Our friendship developed over a couple of years when there was a lot of personal and professional crises happening in our lives.  The support we gave each other solidified and deepened our friendship, as you can imagine.  Still, an abiding friendship is not enough to want to start a business together, at least not for us.  This underlying trust and respect we had for each other; however, was an essential ingredient in our friend-to-business partner recipe.
Another important ingredient in our recipe was sharing the same vision.  If the ideas of what we wanted or foresaw for a business pursuit diverged, it would not have worked.  Having a shared vision meant we both felt passionate about our goals, our long-term strategies, and our responsibilities.  It meant we saw eye to eye on the business blueprint which helped when developing our brand, selecting vendors/products, etc.

As we’ve grown (and continually grow) together in our company, we’ve adopted certain roles and try to maintain that delineation.  It keeps us organized because we know who is responsible for what.   

Finally, the most important ingredient, in my opinion, is communication. Duh.  Seems obvious, I’m sure, but remember, you are two people.  You can’t do something with the business without telling your partner.

To recap the ingredients that work for our successful Pinwheel Gift Company partnership:

  • Trust and respect
  • A shared vision
  • Defined roles
  • Communication
So, how has our friendship fared?  We laugh a lot, especially when we are learning new business skills outside of our comfort zone.  We use goofy voices when packing gift boxes, we sing vendor names when we get new catalogs…we have a lot of fun together.  We also do more together socially, loving the freedom of entrepreneurship and paving our own path.  She now gets to see me when I’m grumpy or having a bad day and vice versa (can’t escape that, folks).  She also sees me sweaty and tomato-faced after going to the gym and vice versa.  And guess what?  We still like each other!  We have forged an even stronger bond since starting this business venture.  I feel very lucky.