Finding the Right Business Partner, The Most Important Decision You'll Make

Kristen and I get asked all the time about our business partnership, which makes sense since you are likely to spend more time with your business partner than anyone else in your life for a while. Starting a business is a unique, amazing, and sometimes challenging journey. To be honest, if we had known what we were in for we would have sat down and thought it through more carefully! Our decision would have been the same but we might have spent more time talking about roles, responsibilities, and expectations. But like any relationship, we jumped in full of romantic dreams, big plans, and lots of coffee dates. 

If you've dreamt of starting your own side hustle or big business, here are some common questions we get asked and what we've learned.

Piquant Marketing Founders Lindsay O'Donnell and Kristen Scharf

Piquant Marketing Founders Lindsay O'Donnell and Kristen Scharf

Were you best friends before you started this business?

No. We were friends but I wouldn't even say we were really close. We worked together for a few years at different locations at Whole Foods Market, enjoyed each other, and respected each other's work but I wouldn't say we were close. 

And the funny thing is, I think it's really worked in our favour. I know some best friends have made great business partners but I think that can be a lot for one relationship. Your best friend is there to pick you up when you're down, be on your side, and be a source of release. Business partners should always be thinking about what's best for the business, be honest with you, and be a source of motivation. I can see how those two roles can be one, but that's a lot for one person, no?

Kristen and I are supportive and close but there generally isn't a fear of hurting each other's feelings when being honest, which is so important when you're running a business because you don't have the time to be beating around the bush.

Why Did You Decide To Go Into Business Together?

Kristen might have a different reason but for some reason, I just knew Kristen would be a great partner! She excels in areas that I'm weak in, she has such a strong aesthetic, and she's hilarious. I knew I could spend large amounts of time with her but I also trusted her abilities. We are luck that our strongest skill sets compliment each other and fill in the gaps where the other might lack.

What's More Important Than Working with Someone You Like?

The reason I wish more people asked us this is because I think it's the most important question to ask when it comes to business partners. You should like the person you're in business with but realistically you're not always going to like each other. In fact, things can get really stressful really quickly. I know there are times when I'm not Kristen's favourite person and vice versa BUT I always trust her completely. Even more so I always 100% trust her instincts and abilities.

The most important thing to have in a partnership is a trust in their abilities and shared vision. I know if she's fighting me on something then she's probably right and I know she's done the same. 

What Is The Best Thing You Can Bring to a Partnership?

The answer to this is to know thyself. Both of us know and are confident in our areas of expertise and the other respects that. If Kristen tells me that a campaign we've designed is lacking then she's right. Her abilities in execution are far superior to mine and I'm not offended in the least. That's why I wanted to work with her. Kristen has actually said the same thing to me;  "This is your arena, I trust you.". 

The second absolutely important aspect of a successful relationship is to have an agreed upon 'disagreement' style. Some partners need to cool off for a few days, some need to yell it out, and some do yoga. Whatever is respectful and ultimately productive needs to be established because disagreements are going to be plentiful, like any long term relationship.

Pretty much sums it up

Pretty much sums it up

What is the Best Part of Being a Partner?

I don't know if I had thought about this before but I am so happy and grateful to have a partner! It's exhausting, thrilling, and sometimes confusing and an ally is a gift I can never stop appreciating. Kristen and I each hold each other accountable and are in the trenches with one another every day. The confidence you build from having a strong partner and learning from their strengths is priceless.

Most people in your life are going to have a low threshold for you talking about the small details of your growing business or smile politely. A partner is going to laugh at the crazy client requests, gripe about the long hours, and do a happy dance with you over your first paycheque.

But even more importantly, you have someone to hand over something to and say "I can't even deal with this." Trust us, this is worth a pot of gold.

Want more on our business and what we've learned? Read our article on 'Finding Your Niche' then sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about events and announcements! (Scroll to the bottom)