We’re both a little bruised from last night. At least our egos are (no, no fistfights between founders, please).

Business partnerships can be challenging. And starting a nonprofit is a huge undertaking. Take those two things, and add a twelve-week deadline, and what do you get? Last night we realized last night that we have put this project in a pressure cooker.  As we are trying to be realistic about this process and share our progress with you, our readers, we thought it only fitting to share our challenges as well.

In the midst of all the planning, research, and hours of work, we failed to see the biggest challenge we faced: how to work together in a way that economized our time, didn’t overlap, and moved the project forward while keeping us on the same page.

Our plan thus far has been to use Google Docs and Google Buzz and conference call whenever we could. We were both working on Articles of Organization, both researching funding, and both writing…well, you get the pictures. It was a “jump right in and figure it out approach”.

That was our first mistake.

By not defining roles, even at an early stage, we both began to drive the same processes.  With two strong personalities, both of us with experience as entrepreneurs, we are working on a project that we both feel very passionate about for the same and different reasons. This means adrenaline, emotions, and personalities are in high-gear.

Thus far, this has generated a lot of energy that has propelled us forward, but also caused a collision of the minds yesterday at our meeting. We were stuck (and clashing) in details like a specific blog posting or a specific sentence within the Articles, or when to do what, or who will do what…and all of our organization and neat and tidy plans came apart.

We ended up spending most of the meeting sorting through our hopes for Tuesday, Inc. And we had to figure out how to work together. This is what we learned:

  • Define roles early. right from the beginning, discuss what your long-term goals are and where you might see yourselves in the mature organization.
  • Discuss how you want to work. This may sound silly, but agreeing on logistics can prevent a lot of stress. (We ultimately decided that calls during work hours, even quick ones, unnecessarily elevated stress levels and increased tension. We will now only email)
  • Keep the big picture, and let the details go. Whether you are as crazy as we are to work with a 12-week deadline or not, the important thing is to move the process forward. Details will fall into place as long as you both agree on the core principles (which chances are, you discussed this before getting started).
  • Put the organization first.  Leave egos, past experiences, and claims for credit out of it as much as possible. This may sound obvious, but when you feel passionate about something, it can be hard to do.

Ultimately, we realized our different perspectives will be assets to Tuesday, Inc.  We both have different experiences and areas of expertise that will be helpful. With a new plan, humility, and a shared task list that updates the other on what we are working on, and, most importantly, a respect for each other as business partners, we are starting our fifth week with more motivation and commitment to our mission than ever.

Do you have any partnership advice for us? any war stories of your own? Let us know!

post by T&A

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