When 1 + 1 Is More Than Two: Creating Synergy with Your Most Important Partners
Diana Franco, WE NYC Mentor

Family: Your First Partners

The average age of a woman entrepreneur in the United States is between 40 and 60 years. It’s likely that at this stage of her life she already has a family, and even more probable that her family is one of the main reasons she is starting her own business. Many women who want to spend more time with their families believe that being an entrepreneur will give them flexibility and control over how they spend their time and organize their lives (personal, family, social, business and economic).

The truth is that starting a business is a little like getting married. When you get married, you’re not only partnering with your spouse. In reality, you also “marry” your spouse’s family, work and friends. The opinions of the spouse’s family, in particular, will have an indisputable weight in all the important and transcendent moments in the life of the new couple.

Similarly, when you start a business, it becomes like another member of your family. It will be in the middle of your dinners. It will interrupt some of your Christmases. It will grow along with your children, and, like your children, it will get sick when you least expect – and everyone will suffer because of its challenges.

Since your business is like  another family member, it’s helpful if your actual family members are on the entrepreneurial journey with you. Your family is the first partner your business needs.

So how do you involve family members?

Your partners – your family, your business partners and your network – form the village from which your business grows.

Diana Franco

You don’t need to share all the details about your business. Doing so will only transmit to them the natural stress and anxiety you feel when starting a new company. But you should mentally prepare them in several ways by communicating the following:

  • The clear line between work and personal life no longer exists. The distinction between the company and home can become blurry. You may find yourself working after hours or at home, even if you have an office.
  • Your family members will have to make sacrifices along with you and support you  in overcoming difficulties and challenges.
  • They will also be part of the rewards and the happy, positive and comforting experiences  that arise out of your progress and achievements.

Your Ideal Business Partner

We often have the idea that working with people just like us is easier. But what does your business need more: ease or efficiency?

During my early years in business, I associated with people similar to me and we worked together harmoniously. Nevertheless, my business, sad to say, was not efficient.

My current partners are very different from me. At first glance, it’s not obvious that we get along and that we’re friends.  But that’s exactly what the business needs: complementary skills, not similar ones.

Your partner in business should be your complement, not your mirror. You don’t need to share skills or temperament. If you are an intellectual and an introvert, you need an extroverted partner. If you are great coder, you need a partner who is very good at product design. If you are a creative type, you need a negotiator.

The only things you do have to share with your partner are your ethical values and your view of life.

Your Network

The most recent studies on entrepreneurship show that your network is the first foundation for your business. As Peter told Jesus: “You are the rock on which I will build my Church.” Your network is the rock from which your business rises. The people in your network are your first customers, your first allies, your first fans, your voice and your sellers. They are the solid base that launches the shuttle into space.

You must identify two types of contacts in your network and involve them in the growth of your company:

The influencers: These individuals make decisions in your industry. They can introduce you and recommend you. They are a catalyzer for your business.

Target audience: These people are  the recipients of the benefits of your products, your end users. They can tell you what your product needs and how it solves their problems. They represent a pool of clients who eventually will  be able to pay for your product or service.

Your partners – your family, your business partners and your network – form the village from which your business grows. Their support is like the earth where you sow the seeds of your business. In entrepreneurship, as in gardening, the soil is as important as the seed itself.