So recently my business partner / sister / friend - Lauren, and I decided to start counselling together. Once upon a time I suppose this was not the kind of thing you used to go shouting from the mountain tops. However in this respect, thankfully, it’s 2017. Frankly I love that we live a time where we can all be vulnerable, share our experiences and learn from each other. Not only do we no longer look down on each other for “struggling” as we once may have, we now watch each other’s courage to face challenges and if anything, it only increases our respect for each other.
I share this with you today, in the hope that for anyone in a close relationship, business or otherwise, that it makes you feel less alone and maybe even covers something that might be helpful to you.
In the beginning
When Lauren and I first decided to go into business together, and start MyMoneyZen, being that we were sisters, we got a wide range of responses. Even to this day it’s one of the top questions we get asked when we meet someone new. “So… what’s it like working with your sister??”. It’s held true that going into business with family is something to be very wary of. I suppose their curiosity is a reflection of this, and in part, probably their relationships with their own siblings. For me, the reaction always took me a little by surprise, because it just seemed so natural to me.
Personally I take going into business with anyone very seriously. Going into business with someone is like entering a marriage. You spend a lot of time together and you’re legally and financially tied to one another. It’s all about values alignment and trust. So for me, it makes total sense that I would end up seeking out a family member as a business partner.
We entered the business relationship with open eyes. I’ve been involved in entrepreneurship / small business / startup business, in one way or another, for the past 10 years, so we knew it was going to be hard. We had also worked together well before and felt our skills complemented each other, which they do. What we didn’t know, was just how hard it was going to be to just get the business off the ground and sadly, how difficult it would be to work together.
The struggle & acceptance
We struggled with each other much more often than we expected and for a long time, the hardest part was simply accepting that it was happening because we were so surprised and it just made us both so sad.
We had already done quite a lot of personal development together and as a result have a very high functioning relationship. We confidently sort out any problems between us in a positive and healthy way. We’re pretty darn good at it too. However, we thought that we would naturally be a lot more compatible working together. We aren’t. We bump up against each other often. It’s taken quite a toll, because despite being able to sort things out well together, if you have to sort things out often, it’s pretty f*&ing exhausting.
While most of the time we were patient and spoke well to one and another, I won’t lie - there have been a few moments over the past 2.5 years (since we started MyMoneyZen), that let’s just say, neither of us were being our “best selves” and neither of us are proud of. People get tired and it’s only natural that was going to happen at some point. All I can say is, thank jebus we have the training we do, to be able to get past those moments and start fresh.
Once we did manage to accept this was happening (which took an embarrassingly long time), we were able to start seeing all the positives in what was happening and start to be more proactive about our approach to our relationship and working together.
A brighter future
After we had our first counselling session together, we realised just how well we were actually already doing and with the help of our counsellor, we’re finding a way to work together that brings out the best in both of us. We’re pretty psyched for the present and the future.
Every time we leave counselling, we high-five and say “aren’t we so amazing and grown up!” because there’s something that feels incredible about being responsible, proactive, facing things head on and doing the best job you can at something - even if you haven’t got it all figured out just yet.
In my next post, I’ll share with you all the highly valuable lessons we’ve learned working together. They’re useful whether you’re working on your business with your business partner, or whether you’re working on your money with your life partner - because at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships.
If you’re made it all the way down to the bottom, thank you for reading. It means a lot to me. And if you’re struggling in some way, individually or with a partner of some kind, I encourage you to talk to someone you trust about it and ask for help. Talking about things always makes the load feel lighter. A brighter future awaits.