Going into business with someone is akin to marrying them. Like a marriage, a business relationship is all about communication, for without communication, there is no relationship.
Emma Welsh and I met at the inaptly named Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool when we were 12 years old. We remained in the same friendship group throughout school and university. We both ended up in France, with me working in Paris for the United Nations Security Council and Emma studying her MBA at the internationally acclaimed INSEAD.
Following the French gigs, we worked on separate start-ups in London, occasionally meeting for dinner, or spending a weekend skiing with friends. We would compare notes and chat about strategies.
A few years later on a trip to North America, I came across super premium fruit smoothies. With branded drinks and start-ups on my mind, it was then that I had my moment of realisation and I realised that was my future.
Emma and I have now been in business together for over 12 years together and spent an additional year getting the business set up. Like a marriage, there have been good times and tough times, both should be expected. Life is easy when things are going well, but we’ve had to really buckle down and galvanise when times were tough.
The financial press is full of “falling out” stories. Co-heads of investment banking departments have ego clashes after 18 months, businesses dissolve because one of the partners raids the bank account or people get greedy and selfish.
Emma and I attribute the stability and success of our relationship to three attributes: trust, respect and shared vision.
It also helps that we have very similar pallets which is a necessity in our business. The manner in which Emma and I behave towards each other impacts how our team and broader stakeholder group perceive us, how they relate to us and treat each other. We have a very flat hierarchical structure and everyone just mucks in, no one treats Emma or me any differently, just because our names are on the bottle.
We recognise three different stakeholder groups in our business, our team, our customers (the retailers) and our consumers. We try to communicate frequently and clearly to each of these groups, so they are all on board with our vision and product offering.
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