You have two individuals (both of which think they are the boss), two different brains, two different ways of thinking and working, two preferred schedules, two opinions, and many times just one office...What could go wrong?
All in all, a good way to describe the journey is comparing it to driving north on I35 trying to get onto the exit for 183 North. (Sorry for you out of towners who probably don't get the reference). What I mean is, sometimes you will hit the traffic just right and it will be smooth sailing, while other times you will have to hit your gas and brakes about a million times just to get onto the freaking exit ramp. And, of course, there will always be that one (or two, or three) time where you are in the worst place at the worst time and you're stuck for an hour in a line of cars because two people can't figure out how to properly merge. Regardless, there will always be bumps, slow downs, wrecks and accidents, but at the end of the day, you always make it home.
- Business is business. Topher and I set up planned business meetings every week so we have a set time to talk business and address any concerns that we have with the company. This way we aren't creeping business talk into our more personal conversations. There's nothing worse than feeling like you work 24/7 without any breaks (even if your work is doing what you love). When we plan a hike or a date night we really enjoy not thinking and talking about work, which is why it's important to schedule business meetings and get it all out. Another great way to leave business at work (or at home if you work from home,) is to write a professional email to your business partner about your concerns rather than bringing it up, let's say, over dinner or something... Sometimes, when I feel as though we could be using our time better or getting too distracted during a project, I write him an email (pretending like it's not going to my bf, but to a co-worker). Writing in that mindset makes me leave anything personal out of the conversation and lets him know that I'm bringing it up because I'm concerned it is affecting our business (and it doesn't come off like I'm a nagging girlfriend). And of course, send that kind of email to their business email address, not their personal email ;)
- Trust your partner and play on each other's strengths. This one is HUGE. Trust that your business partner can do their job without having a babysitter. Give them space. It's really hard to do your own work when you're worried about your business partner's work. Trust they will do their duties and get the job done so you can worry about getting your own work done. If you both are worried about the other person getting something completed then you're both wasting time. There have been times where one of us gets disappointed with the other because we feel like something could have been done better, but that's when you have to trust that they did the best they could. (Unless of course they didn't do the best they could and slacked off. In that case, they better own up to it).
- COMMUNICATE! This should probably be at the top of the list because it is the backbone to everything. The worst is when you both spend all day on the same thing without knowing it, come together for a meeting and realize now you must choose which proposal (or whatever it is you've been working on) is better than the other.) Then whomever's you don't choose gets frustrated because they just wasted their day, and nobody likes that. Before any work gets done, Topher and I assign each other duties that best fit our strengths.
- Shit will hit the fan at some point (and you are BOTH to blame when it does). Failure is inevitable. At some point you will loose a job or disappoint a client and it will suck. Whether it's because of events outside of your control or maybe you just made a mistake because, you know, you're human, failure will always find a way to screw things up at some point in your career. It's easy to blame things on someone or something else, but when you and your bff BOTH own a business, your mistakes are their mistakes and vise a versa. The best thing to do is just shrug it off and learn what you could have done to prevent it from happening.
- Write it down! Even when your communication is on point, your business life and personal lives are balanced and the sun is shining, you must always remember to remember. When you own a small business like we do, you have no secretary, no boss, no mass emails reminding you to do things or make schedules; everything is up to you. One of the hardest things I think Topher and I face on a day-to-day basis is the organization of our thoughts, schedules, and to-do lists. If you are not an organized person and want to start a business you better do one of two things- learn to be a more organized person, or find someone who is organized and start a business with them. Remembering dates, names, addresses, times can make or break your customer service which can make or break your whole business. So please people, write it down.
Manage your time to make yourself happy.
Work to live, don't live to work. If making money makes you happy, maybe you will want to work all the time. If going camping and hiking makes you happy, schedule those trips and activities before you schedule your work. Sure, you may miss out on one or two opportunities to make money, but if that's what you love to do, do it. After all, isn't that why you start your own business? To be your own boss? To make your own schedule? To do what you love?
Get your priorities straight and don't take life so seriously. Do what you love, work in a field you love, and schedule all the other things around what is most important to you.