Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. When I set up my first business nearly 20 years ago, I did so out of necessity. I didn’t plan on becoming an entrepreneur. I had been living in Brussels, Stockholm and Belgrade – running pan-European communications campaigns, even being promoted to head of the Nordic B2B and corporate teams for one of the big international agencies. I thought I was good at what I did. But that changed pretty quickly… arriving in London, PR agency after PR agency, recruiter after recruiter, told me I didn’t have “London experience” so it would be difficult to find a job. For three months I tried to find work and every time the answer was still the same – no London experience – no job. Around the same time, some of my previous clients were contacting me asking if I could help them with X, Y, Z – so I figured why not set up my own company?
Initially I set up my business as a way to freelance – but the work kept coming in and I had to hire more and more people. Within five years I had grown to offices in four countries and a team of over 20 full-time people working for me. I never planned it, it just kind of happened, and I loved it, but I was lonely.
The biggest challenge for me, and I think for a lot of entrepreneurs, has always been the loneliness – not knowing what to do, or who to reach out to. The great thing when you work in a larger company is that you have colleagues of a similar level that you can reach out to, collaborate with, brainstorm with. When you’re running your own business, you don’t have this. My first business partner was my husband – and it really wasn’t a strategic decision – it was more of a “give me 50% to invest in our future together” sort of decision. I honestly didn’t think about it at the time – I never really thought I would one day have a seven-figure business. Five years ago, we divorced, so that “business partnership” didn’t really go to plan! Take it from me, don’t go into business with your spouse.
So fast forward 20 years and for my next business venture, Female Fusion, I became business partners with Kellie Whitehead. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised how nice it was to work with someone who has the same work ethic and vision that I do. I strongly feel that even though your profit share in a business might be only half of what it would have been if you’ve gone it alone, the ability to grow your business is that much more, that it’s worth it. Having a business partner can bring so many benefits including:
Increased productivity and accountability – having someone else that you’re working with on the same level means that you hold each other accountable and deliver more and quicker! I experienced this when we decided to launch Female Fusion’s membership site the Network in September. We set 1 September as a launch date in the summer, and constantly reminded each other that we were not missing that date – and we made that date!
New perspectives – having a different set of eyes in the business means that we can bring different ideas and perspectives to our business. Kellie comes up with ideas I would never think of and I like to think that I do the same for her.
Broader range of skills – two heads are better than one. We can’t be good at everything and if you have a business partner who has a different skill set than you, you’re onto a winner! Kellie is one of the most brilliant brains when it comes to marketing, copywriting and anything digital media, where I’m more of the PR, business strategy, process and training person – all things we need to bring to the table for Female Fusion.
Better work/life balance – having two senior people working together means that we’re able to pick up the slack for each other. If someone’s having an off day, they need to be at school for their kids, or working on a huge project or proposal for one of their other businesses the other one is able to step in. It also means that we’re not always working 24/7!
Moral support – it can be hard when you’re alone, which is why it’s so great that you have a business partner that you can bounce ideas off of, get encouragement when things don’t go well, or give you inspiration when you’re not working at 100%.