17th Apr 2020
Thinking about starting a business with a friend? Sinead Bailey Kelly of H&G Creations explains how she and Dee Young went from friends to co-founders — and stayed the distance
Looking to start a business, or already have a business and you’re going it alone? Have you ever longed for that perfect partner in crime who is the yin to your yang both in business and personality? Well, it exists and it’s nice to have company on your business journey.
Dee Young and I run a creative event design and management company together called H&G Creations, but before we were CEOs we were BFFs, and even before that we were just strangers who hadn’t met yet.
Our journey began in the most unlikely of places: Gumtree. We met while I was looking for help with a gallery space I was curating at the time called the Little Green Street Gallery.
We quickly became friends outside of the gallery space, and when we were both made redundant about a year into knowing each other we decided that we wanted to keep creating together and so we looked to incubate our idea for H&G Creations (formerly known as Hunt & Gather at the time).
Since then we have created everything from exhibitions, pop-up dinners, after-hours parties, corporate events, brand activations, performance evenings and everything in between. Here is what we have learned about starting a business with a friend and how we made it work…
Perhaps the most important thing about any relationship, be it friendship or business, is respect; to be able to admire someone so deeply that you always have their best interests at heart as well as your own. To treat your relationships fairly and compassionately, to expect the best from yourselves, each other and the business at all times while also providing unwavering support for one another in the good times and the bad.
You also want to make sure that you’re on the same page, whether you are going into a new business together with a friend, or you are inviting a friend in on a business that you have started already. You’ll both need to understand and agree upon the collective vision of the business. Make sure everyone understands the business ethos, mission, vision and where you would both like to take the business in the future.
Establish distinct job roles
As entrepreneurs, we tend to wear many hats so it’s very important to establish distinct job roles. Work with your friend to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. I know it sounds very nerdy but doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on your characters should help you both collectively and introspectively look at what job roles would suit you both best.
Check your ego in at the door
It is important to be confident in life and in business and to have a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem. This will not only make you feel good about yourself personally but will help you stand behind your business, give great pitches, close deals, etc. However, when dealing with your friendship/business partner, check your ego in at the door, keep things light, transparent and respectful and don’t let your ego cloud your ability to approach problems with objectivity and empathy.
Last but certainly not least, talking is paramount. Regularly check in to see what is working and what could be improved upon, both personally and professionally. Businesses evolve constantly and to keep up and make sure everyone is happy and always staying aligned with the vision, communication is essential.
Going into business and being an entrepreneur is exciting, adventurous and freeing. However, with everything in life, there are highs and lows. Sometimes you hear ‘no’ so many times it takes its toll on your feelings of self-worth. But when you’re in a business partnership with a friend you can always count on the balance, reassurance, support, and kindness you can provide each other, you are no longer alone and you are on the journey to overcome the adversities and celebrate the triumphs together.
Read more: Never too late: meet the women who started businesses in their 40s
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