How to Start a Business With a Friend — and Actually Remain Friends

IMAGE: OF A KIND
IMAGE: OF A KIND

This article is part of DBA, a new series on Mashable that features insights from leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital and management.

When you launch a company with a friend — if you’re a woman, at least — people tend to think one of two things: That it’s either an endless slumber-party (“That sounds like so much fun!”) or that you are completely insane and are destined to have a falling out that would be worthy of a Bravo reality show.

But four years into starting Of a Kind, a site that sells the pieces and tells the stories of emerging designers, my business partner Claire Mazur and I have had neither experience. In fact, we think that our partnership is one of the strongest, most impressive things about the business we’ve built. Below, eight of the tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way.

1. Harness your shared history

Having been friends for the better part of a decade before starting a company, Claire and I had experienced a lot together, from the inevitable drama that comes with being a college girl (See: crying into pillows over breakups) to the more grown-up weight of family illness. We know how the other deals with stress and emotion. And while this comes in handy in countless settings, from presentations to hiring sessions, I have to say that I find it most comforting when we’re sitting in what feels like the worst meeting of all time, and I know the person sitting next to me is equally miserable.

2. Define roles

Though we share a couple’s desk and bounce ideas off each other all day, we have clearly outlined our responsibilities so that a) we don’t both write responses to the same emails and b) we don’t step on one another’s toes. Our who-does-what breakdown lives in a spreadsheet that we revisit regularly as our company and our priorities evolve.

3. Accept that people will confuse you

They will! And there’s nothing you can do about it. In fact, we have not one but two portmanteaus of the Brangelina/Kimye ilk: Clairica and Eclaire. But when people ask us if we live together? That’s when we laugh in their faces.

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Source: Mashable | ERICA CERULO

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