Starting a business with your best friend may sound like a great idea. After all, you already know that you get along and can spend a lot of time together. But before you dive right in, there are a few things you and your potential business partner and longtime bestie should know before signing on the dotted line.
My best friend Kim Strengari and I have been business partners for years, owning and operating three successful restaurants in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA (a thriving suburb located right outside of Philadelphia) – Stella Blu, Gypsy Saloon and Southern Cross Kitchen as well as our catering company ConshyGirls Events and Catering. While we’ve definitely had our ups and downs over the years, we’ve stuck to a few simple rules that we believe has kept our businesses thriving and our friendship stronger than ever!
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Here are 4 rules for starting a business with your best friend and still maintaining a friendship, to ensure it’s the beginning of a great new venture, and not the end of your relationship:
1. Determine Each Other’s Roles
The handling of day-to-day duties is something that came naturally to Kim and I, because we have very specific talents and abilities. However, over time, as we’ve grown and acquired more restaurants, these roles are less defined and we work more as partners. So, for anyone starting out, I’d suggest that at first, play to each other’s strengths. If you are a numbers person, you take care of the accounting. If your partner is more creative let her do the marketing. However, be ready to be flexible, which takes me to my next step.
2. Embrace Change
When it’s just the two of you, there is no such thing as “that’s not my job”. Be ready to take on anything! Even to this day, with three restaurants, I still find myself washing dishes or picking up ink for the printer.
At first, play to each other’s strengths. If you’re a numbers person, take care of the accounting. If your partner is more creative let her do the marketing. However, be ready to be flexible …
Just because you’re best friends doesn’t mean you can read each other’s minds. Make sure you keep each other informed of everything in the beginning. As time goes on, you will learn that you don’t need to communicate every little detail but when you start out, don’t take for granted that she will automatically know how you prefer to do things or when a task is a completed.
4. Take Time Out to Just Be Friends
This may seem simple but it’s not. Something all best friends who are going into business together should know is to always make time to be friends. Set dates just for girl talk, and not for business. A business partnership is just like a marriage there’s always a give-and-take, you must respect and listen to the other person’s ideas.
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A business partnership is just like a marriage there’s always a give-and-take …
Starting a business with your best friend can be the most rewarding thing you ever do. After all, no one knows you better than your best friend and no one wants to see you succeed more than she does. So, don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith, just have a safety net in place for when you take it!
Kim Strengari and Marianne Gere are the co-owners of three of the most popular restaurants in Philadelphia’s flourishing hipster suburb Conshohocken, PA, Stella Blu, Gypsy Saloon and Southern Cross Kitchen as well as the thriving catering company ConshyGirls. They do this with what appears to be ease, lots of laughs and plenty of good times. Strengari and Gere are always evolving. They recently opened a live music venue in Southern Cross Kitchen, redecorated Gypsy Saloon and are discussing plans for a future restaurant.
That unique combination of sheer will power, a determination to succeed and a sense of fun and adventure is what makes these two women extraordinary – especially in an industry dominated by men.