To say our business life turned upside down this year is a huge understatement. We went from solopreneurs at the start of the year armed with big goals and a little tribe, to co-founders of an all new business with even bigger dreams and a steadily growing tribe. Together we’ve welcomed in students to a small course, taught hundreds of small business owners on webinars and in group coaching, and restructured our services to offer a total one-stop shop for small business owners. All the while being 300 miles apart and living in two different states.
We can both honestly say this is never, ever where we’d thought we’d be. We were both the ones in school ready and willing to work alone on projects, sticking to ourselves and only holding ourselves accountable. If you would have told us earlier this year that we would end the year as a two-woman show we would have laughed and rolled our eyes. Boy, how quickly things changed.
We Dated Before We Got Married
Being business partners with someone is exactly like being married to them. There’s the same level of trust required, openness, disagreements and figuring it out. Heck, we even spend the same amount of time together as we do with our husbands.
We quickly found our goals were too similar, we liked each other too much and wanted the same happiness for each other. It didn’t make sense to compete for what would end up being nearly carbon copy businesses. We knew we had the drive to do it alone, and together we knew things could only be better.
Essentially skipping the “dating” phase of our relationship, we went from complete strangers to business partners in under 3 months. Think Vegas wedding for your business. But instead of having hangover regret from our quick decision making, we have only fallen more in love.
We continue to get to know each other better everyday. Whether it be high school horror stories, childhood memories or even just chatting about family and our future, we continue to become not just closer business partners, but better friends.
We are so glad it happened this way. If we had done it in reverse I think our working relationship would be harder to manage. Not that your best friend can’t become your business partner, but it is just a completely different kind of relationship.
Is This For You Too?
If you are contemplating bringing on someone new to your team there is a TON to consider. Here are just some questions to get you started:
- Do you both have equal ownership?
- Does one party have to buy into an existing business?
- How are responsibilities divided up?
- What happens if someone wants out down the road?
- What does a normal day look like?
- How can you back each other up?
- Are your skills balanced or do you overlap too much/too little?
- How will you handle money?
- What legalities are you getting yourself into?
- How will you get paid?
- How will you bring in new business?
- What will be different?
- What will stay the same?
The same questions swirled through our brains, surrounded by many more. The more we answer and figure out the more that comes up. This isn’t really a make a decision once and you are done. This is about working through things on the good days, and on the rainy days when someone wakes up in a bad mood and the other one calls you crying.
Long Distance Business Ownership
Hundreds of miles and two states separate us, but on a normal day that would never phase you. We have found lots of (logistical) ways to just make it work and make it functional. All in all, it is no different than any other serious type of relationship. You have to continue to communicate. You have to be present (yes, and sometimes that means driving the distance to be there for real).
Sure our similar goals and the actual business tie us together, but deep down what makes it work is how incredibly interconnected our whole life is. We have similar backgrounds, both raised in Kansas City. We have an odd affinity for musty antique shops and vintage stores stuffed to the brim with mid-century goodness. We appreciate well manicured houses (everything has its place). And we could NOT live without our rescue puppies.
Finding this connection is not unheard of, but keeping it strong does take work. We both have a tad bit of crazy lady built in. Want to jump into the actual ways we make this work, check out our recent blog post.
We’re Better Together
By having equally amazing, similar, yet different sets of skills our clients are able to get the whole enchilada with us. The ways that we are able to brainstorm new strategies and ideas for other small business owners together is something we would never have been able to offer before.
Separately there are things we would normally have to outsource or send our clients elsewhere to get done, but now we can handle most things in house. Even if it’s something we personally aren’t capable of when you combine two people’s worth of connections you get a pretty solid Rolodex of options to choose from.
Tapping Into Childhood Dreams
It’s safe to say that after both of us walked away from graduate school, we thought our teaching days were over (one of Emylee’s dreams was becoming a College Professor). It has blown us away how many opportunities we get in this venture we’re on. We love that we now get to create these opportunities instead of working for an institution where they were handed down the ladder. Teaching is truly a passion of ours. With our motto of “give, give, give” we’ve found that the more we do for others, that the bigger our tribe grows and the more that comes back to us.
We give back as much as possible, especially in our 4-times a week blog posting, webinars and workshops, Backstage and inside our course. We’re also seeking out speaking engagements to teach people in person. Whether that be a small local workshops or travel to big conferences we can’t wait to see where that goes (if you have anything in mind, reach out!).
By combining our business we also combined our strategies. These have led us to both be working full time on this creative journey.