You know how everyone says you should never go into business with your friends? That’s bull#$%^&! Silly advice. Ignore those people.
Becky here. Jess and I have been best friends since we were 12 – and in the course of our long lives and friendship, we have crushed on boys at band camp, crushed on boys in Europe, crushed on the Backstreet Boys, helped each other through our intense educations at Harvard and Yale, taken the first leap into our professional careers together as roommates in Brooklyn, gushed about our hopes, dreams, aspirations and life goals, completed What Color Is Your Parachute? together, in its entirety, twice, and lent a supportive, comforting ear (or, worked the tough love angle) with each other about all those aforementioned boys, and others. We’re, you know, best friends.
Along the course of this best-friendship journey, Jess and I coined the concept of Dating & Hookup and embarked on a co-mission to spread the idea to as many women as possible. We weren’t planning to start a business, but we were planning to try and change the way young women everywhere felt about their love lives. Dating & Hookup had helped us go from wallowing like lonely losers on our futon to feeling like the empowered women we were – in control of our lives and at the center of our own unique dah of guys. We were angry that we’d absorbed downtrodden cultural messages like He’s Just Not That Into You, and we wanted to re-focus ourselves, our girlfriends, and as many other women as possible on what was REALLY happening with love and romance in – what we realized was – our post-dating world.
But it turns out that if you want to get on up on a media soap box, negotiate a film option (New Line Cinema immediately optioned the rights to Dating & Hookup), build a website, and try and get a book deal…you kind of need a lawyer. And an agent. And a team to help you implement your goals. So in April 2010, Jess and I co-founded J&R Creative Media to facilitate all of the above – AND to work on all the other creative projects that have since come our way. It’s been over two years, and we’ve never looked back. Because, as it turns out, going into business with your (best) friend rocks.
Not that it’s all easy-breezy. The unique challenges of founding a start-up can knock you on your a$$, pretty much every day. And it can be hard to work with someone who knows you better than you know yourself. But overall, Jess and I say: not only are we glad we went into business together – in fact, we can’t imagine doing this entrepreneurial/creative hustle with anyone BUT each other.
Here are our 5 Tips for Succeeding in Business (and Life!) with your Best Friend:
1. Use technology to keep in touch constantly – because you always need to be on the same page. These days, everything moves at the speed of light – especially when it comes to work. Jess and I text, Gchat, tweet, email, Facebook, Skype and call each other ALL day every day (and okay, we play Words with Friends, too). Because it’s important that the other person knows about that contact you just made, or the conversation you had that gave you insight into a business matter, or the hot barista who drew a cute foam design on your latte (dah alert!). Being on the same page as often as possible is key – so much so, in fact, that the very first thing we do every morning is text each other a list of our priorities for that day, so that we both know what we’re working on and can adjust as needed. Keeping in e-contact makes the work day vibrant and more fun, as well as more productive. Jess and I also set aside time to have “real meetings” – usually in person and usually for hours – where we can go over everything in depth. But it’s amazing how much you can accomplish with just your smartphones. Even if – ahem, Jess – one of yours has a giant crack down the middle. (GET IT FIXED!)
2. Force each other to maintain balance. As much as we Millennials want to have it all and throw ourselves into careers that consume and fulfill and inspire us, your best friend/biz partner needs to be there to remind you to take care of yourself. Jess and I keep each other on task with business projects, but we also encourage each other to GO TO YOGA, stop working for now and go to the meditation class, make time for that run, go to sleep when we need it, go out and party and let loose if it’s been a stressful week. Going into business with your best friend means that the person who is looking out for your professional goals is the same person who can be looking out for your happiness and sanity. And even better, Jess and I have learned that our professional output is better when we’re feeling happy, calm and sane. Having balance is a win-win! But of course, we don’t always remember that individually, when work gets intense…and so, when we send that first-thing-in-the-morning-text, we also tell each other how we plan on adding some balance into our day and then hold each other accountable to that.
3. Make a rule to assume that everything is always OK – until one of you says it isn’t. (aka COMMUNICATE!!!) You can’t spend all day worrying that something is wrong between you and your business partner – especially if your business partner is your best friend. Every second you are sitting there, wondering if your best friend/business partner is annoyed at you, or if she thinks you’re not working hard enough, or if she hasn’t called you yet today because you did something wrong…you are wasting valuable time and mental energy that could be spent moving your business forward. Starting a business takes hard work, and if you’re going to be successful, then there can be no time for second guessing yourself or trying to read into ambiguous exchanges or interactions. So no passive aggressiveness allowed. (And if you have a really passive aggressive best friend, don’t go into business with him or her…) Jess and I agree that we will every day act on the assumption that everything is OK between us, personally and professionally, unless the other person *says* otherwise. When things are NOT OK (and in the past it’s been for both business and personal matters, because, you know, life happens) – we have reached out to each other over the phone or over email to have it out and discuss the problem through and through. That pretty much always sucks – BUT, we have emerged each time stronger in our relationship and partnership. Avoidance is deadly; don’t avoid. Confront each other – in a productive way – when needed.
4. Prioritize your friendship (at least, as often as possible). Jess jumping in! When you start a business with your best friend, you should just expect that your business will begin following you everywhere you two go. Suddenly every dinner will become a meeting, every girl’s night out will turn into a brainstorming session, and when one of you is dishing about the cute guy you just had drinks with, the other won’t be able to help wondering if just maybe he’d be willing to become your web designer…And that’s all okay! It’s a beautiful thing for two people to be so passionate about an endeavor that you can’t stop talking and thinking about it. But even while you’re joining forces to change the world, make sure to set aside time to nurture your friendship as well. Take a few minutes during your breakfast meeting to complain about your parents. Let yourself spend an hour debating a non-business-related article that you both read. Get tipsy and dance together. And when one of you makes out with that maybe-web-designer, get excited and giggle about it before looking over his latest design suggestions. All work and no play make a best friendship…well, not a best friendship.
5. Remember that you are there to push AND catch each other. And here, finally, we have the real beauty of going into business with your best friend. Presumably, you both know each other better than you know anyone (and sometimes even better than you know yourself). This puts you in the perfect position to know just how to make that other person the best, most successful version of herself by pushing her, motivating her and challenging her. But it also puts you in the perfect position to know just how to provide the warm, comforting, supportive safety net she’ll need when the inevitable difficulties and failures of business life get her down. No one is a more effective cheerleader for me than Becky is, and vice versa. She constantly forces me outside of my professional and personal comfort zones by pushing me to write more, negotiate smarter and, yes, fix my damn iPhone screen. And I am constantly pushing her to focus on her creative pursuits, display her relatable side, and improve her air hockey game. Every single day, we make each other better, more successful people than we would be otherwise. But that said, we also know just how to take a step back and console each other when we get overwhelmed, or someone hates our work, or some idiot boy doesn’t text us back. Consider yourself lucky to be in business with your best friend, because no one should be more adept at challenging AND supporting you than she is. Make sure you’re doing both at all times, and then watch as your business – and your friendship – grows beyond your wildest dreams.
This content series is presented by smartwater. smartwater, live a life well hydrated.
Jess & Becky co-created Dating & Hookup and co-founded J&R Creative Media. They have been best friends since they were 12.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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