Starting A Side Hustle with Your Bestie? Our Top 6 Operating Essentials for a Successful Partnership
I have been reflecting lately on how fortunate Alisha and I are to have a partnership with such a strong foundation. We met for the first time 7 years ago, we became fast friends; spending our days together at work and our evenings together over Prosecco. We dreamt up a plan to create our own company, we brought the business to life, we held down full time jobs, became mothers and navigated all the tricky beautiful challenges life threw our way.
Moving from besties to business partners has been a really natural movement for us and we work at it, every single day. We are so committed to our vision of the business AND our friendship that we created our operating principles on how we will work together. It’s been 3 years and I truly believe these principles have allowed us to move fast, align quickly, challenge each other, work together flawlessly and most importantly - launch our business. It is easy to have a great business idea, but to execute - that takes strategy, thought and should include an intentional plan on how you will achieve maximum workability between the Co Founders.
If you are in a similar scenario, take the time to pause, reflect and design an alliance on how you will work together including a plan for what you will do when things get tough, what you are committed to above all else and the lens and values you will filter decisions through.
It may just be the most important planning your business does.
Here are our Top 6 Operating Essentials and how they support us in our business relationship and friendship:
1. CLEAR IN THE MOMENT
So what does it mean to ‘Clear’? It simply means bringing the unsaid into awareness, intentionally choosing to let it go and making a commitment around what is needed next. Consider the following questions:
Is there something holding you back from being fully present? Are you holding on to something form the past that is getting in the way of your listening? Is there a belief you are holding on to that is getting in the way of your ability to be in possibility?
Clearing gives you access to the present moment. When you are in the present moment you have the maximum ability to impact.
We Clear - in the moment, with vulnerability, with our truth and without judgement.
This allows us to have constant workability, with this operating principle we achieve 100% workability, 100% of the time. There is no space for resentment to build or annoyance to fester. We have the difficult conversation in the moment, restore and move on.
If there is one thing you take from this list to your own partnership - take this. To get started set it up as a weekly practice so you build the habit and create the space for authentic conversation + clearing to occur. If you walk away from a conversation with your partner that doesn’t feel right, leaves you feeling off, or with a sinking feeling or you don’t feel you got what you needed or the topic feels incomplete - this is your body telling you you need to go back and clear.
2. KNOW WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE
Success looks different for everyone - so have a vision of what it looks and feels like for your business and for you as individuals. For example: for Alisha success looks like having a thriving business and picking up her kids from school everyday, for me, success may look like spending a month abroad with my kids every year working remotely completely untethered. It is important to understand how your partner defines success.
At Talent Lab we set a 10 Year Vision - we have 4 pillars of how we speak about our vision, they are: Global Business, Freedom + Choice, Innovation & Philanthropy. We have specific goals and objectives in each of these buckets that are clearly defined & most importantly - we know exactly how our 10 year vision FEELS. When we get there, when it actualizes we will recognize it immediately by the feeling and we will know we have been successful.
Our 10 year vision is created from the place of pure possibility.
We then break down the 10 Year vision into our 5 Year Strategic Priorities - all of our decision making today is filtered through this lens.
Does doing ‘xyz’ support our 5 year Strategic Priorities? If yes then we do it, if not, it’s an easy no. We stay laser focused on what moves us closer to the Vision.
From there our 5 year Priorities are then broken down to our yearly FOCUS.
For example: For 2018 we articulate the 3-5 things we need to achieve this year and assign a by when (due date) to it and we then hold each other accountable to making that happen.
We dream BIG. We write our goals and then expand then by 80%.
We also keep items around us that appear in our 10 Year Vision. For example here is a snippet of the 10 Year Vision:
”I light a candle and look over to Alisha’s office. She is already here as her purse is on her desk but I don’t see her. All of a sudden she comes out of our office kitchen with a huge pair of gold scissors (where did she get those?!) and bunches of long stem white roses in her arms. She is walking around making little flower arrangements all over the office. I look down smiling and giggle out loud because this is what we always dreamed about and it’s f’ing happening. She sees me & smiles because she totally knows what I am thinking ‘Hiiiiii Tlinq!’ she says.”
We bought those gold scissors last year and they live on our desk. It’s a small reminder of what we are working towards.
3. EXEMPLEMARY COMMUNICATION
Our Communication with each other is Next Level.
We are constantly in a cycle of: Connect - Align - Connect - Align - Pivot - Align Again.
We restore integrity - if one of us will be late to a meeting, miss a deadline or not deliver what we said we would - we are 100% responsible for communicating that to the other partner.
We ask for what we need - we don’t sit in unclarity, fear or let ourselves become swamped or overwhelmed.
We pick up the phone and say ‘hey, I need support with this’.
We check in - ‘hey you seem stressed, what is going on for you? How is your workload? Are you managing?’ We don’t wait for the other person to drown. We stand for each other.
Our communication with our candidates and clients is real and authentic. We are in the right amount of contact with our partners. We will never bombard you and we won’t ghost you either.
We communicate and align on priorities - what is a priority for me may not be for Alisha.
4. CLEAR FINANCIAL GOALS
We talk money every week, we go through our accounts, budget and forecasting line by line. We understand what is coming in and what is coming out. We budget, we set goals around income and we set goals around how we want to use our financials to advance our community and our team.
We always approach financials through the mindset of abundance.
We believe money + value go hand in hand, we don’t ask for one without expecting the other. If we hire you, we expect value for every cent we pay you. When you hire us, providing you more value than anyone else on the market is what you can expect.
We have a sound financial structure in place that allows us to contribute to our future growth, the present moment, retirement and our passion projects.
5. PRESENCE + PROSECCO
This is our precious time to connect.
Once a week we sit down, light candles, pour a glass of Prosecco and don’t talk business.
No matter what is going on we commit to Being Right Here Right Now.
This is when we connect on life, love, loss and everything in between, we talk about our sons, how we are doing individually, what’s keeping us up at night, what we are excited about. Sometimes there’s tears, a lot of the time there’s laughter and a ton of brie cheese.
This is our sacred time to be present for each other and simply be friends.
6. TIME IS PRECIOUS
We use the phrase ‘Time is Precious’ a lot in our business and we mean it. We mean it above all else. When something is going on we ask each other the question: ‘Where or who do you need to be with right now? Go Do that.’
We understand that performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving.
Most importantly, success for both of us means that our whole lives work in harmony. Fulfillment in our lives outside of our business is just as important and crucial to us as the business growing in profit and global reach. One without the other doesn’t work.
And of course we are still learning, growing and figuring things out. The above framework has supported us in the first few scrappy, messy early start up years. We hope it inspires you to create some principles that will support your businesses with strong, healthy partnerships that last a lifetime.
Written by: Tess Sloane, Co Founder, Talent Lab