Along with my business partner, Erin Patinkin, I am the co-owner of Ovenly, a New York-based retail and wholesale bakery. We met at a food-centric book club in 2009, started experimenting in the kitchen together, formed an LLC in 2010 and have been making sweet and savory treats ever since. Over the last six years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what a successful partnership requires.
1. Don't be afraid to disagree.
Erin and I have always gotten along great, but no partnership is immune from tension. We used to spend 18 hours a day together alone in the kitchen! We have our occasional differences and frustrations, but we also know that is to be expected. Creative ideas and solutions can often arise from disagreeing, so to us, honest communication is essential.
2. Don't deal with it later.
One thing we try to do is nip tension in the bud. Letting things fester leads to bigger issues down the line. Oftentimes a simple conversation in the moment allows for an easy resolution.
3. Be vulnerable.
Business partnerships are, in many ways, like romantic relationships. Share your fears and concerns, admit when you're wrong and remember to tell your partner "I couldn't do this without you" every once in a while.
4. Divide and conquer.
It's tough, in the early stages, when you're wearing many hats and just trying to make it all work. Roles and responsibilities can easily get muddled. Erin and I learned the hard way that we were often wasting time working on many of the same things. It's a learning process, but over time, we naturally gravitated toward certain roles and those have become much more defined now.
5. Let it go.
When it's your own business, it is often very hard to delegate and trust other staff to do the job or responsibilities that you once managed. However, we learned quickly that if you don't let go of certain things, you inhibit the growth of your company, as well as of your employees. You want to be able to get to a point where your operations can run without you being there.
Read more about Ovenly.