With all the naysayers out there warning against mixing business with pleasure, is there a secret formula to turn a successful friendship into a thriving business partnership?
The dynamic duo behind luxury engagement proposal planning business my proposal co., are proof that (with the right approach) diving into business with your best friend can pay off.
Start by finding your niche.
When Tania Alaee got engaged in 2015, it wasn’t just her relationship status that changed—it was her employment status too.
Gloria Gammo, Tania’s best friend, had been enlisted to help Tania’s then-boyfriend organise a picture-perfect proposal for her, and after the dust had settled the best friends realised they had stumbled upon a pretty unique concept for a business: orchestrating bespoke, lavish proposal experiences for couples in Australia and beyond.
Now celebrating more than two years as business partners, we chat to the pair about how they have navigated starting a business in the luxury market while keeping their friendship intact.
“We share the same values but our skills are different.” – Tania
Q: How have you managed dividing tasks in your business?
Gloria: “We’d already worked together on luxury events all over the world, so we knew each other’s style. But when we put our business plan together, we talked about what we were both interested in doing and were honest about what we wanted our responsibilities to look like going forward.”
This initial chat made it easy for the pair to divvy up the business responsibilities, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and how they might complement each other.
Tania: “There’s no point both working on the same parts of the business—it’s not productive, and you end up getting in each others way. The reason we work so well is that we share the same values, but our skills are actually very different.”
Gloria: “It’s the perfect partnership. Tania is incredibly astute and empathetic and just nails the client relationship side, and I love working on the marketing strategy and logistics side, ensuring we tick all the right boxes in terms of luxury brand appeal.”
Q: We all have differences of opinion, no matter how close the friendship is. How do you navigate those tricky conversations in the workplace?
Tania: “We’re both fairly logical, rational thinkers so we are pretty good at working through any differences. One of our best tricks is to park the issue until we have the time and space to talk it out. Which is usually over a wine on the weekend! It’s important not to let it derail you from your task at hand.”
Gloria: “When there are those sticking points that you just can’t work through, it’s vital to have a third person to provide an objective way forward. Our business coach helps us navigate through the challenging moments and big picture decisions—it’s really paid off.
Tania: “Clear communication helps us manage our business partnership, but it’s also crucial to carry this clear communication through into our dealings with clients. Not only do we need to be on the same page to create their dream proposal, a huge part of our service is discretion and secrecy. That means we have to be on the ball to ensure every communication is crystal clear.”
Q: Starting a new business can be stressful. How have you both managed to stay motivated and inspired?
Gloria: “The day-to-day tasks can definitely bog you down sometimes, but to combat this we instigated an action plan—it’s where we park all the big picture items, or fabulous ideas (and there are a TON!). We add them to the list as soon as they pop into our heads, and aim to tick three items off the list per fortnight. This keeps our business on track, and keeps us both motivated and inspired.”
Q: How do you sustain your friendship outside of work?
Tania: “We were friends before we were business partners, so we really make time for each other outside of our business—we’ll go for dinners with our husbands, or catch-up on a Sunday for walks. Neither of us wants the friendship to suffer. Of course, we try not to talk about work, but that’s almost impossible. We love what we do!”