5 Things to Look for in a Business Partner

Today is our Shannon’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Shannon!

I’ve had the privilege of being Shannon’s business partner for over 9 years. I say privilege because she truly is a joy to work with, and I feel blessed to have her in my life. We didn’t know each other very well when we first started collaborating so this whole thing had the potential of fizzling long ago, but instead 2014 is positioning itself to be our biggest year ever. There was also potential for just being business partners, but instead I list her as one of my very closest friends.

Truth be told, I’m not a natural collaborator. I tend to not trust that other people will pull their weight. I assume that they will be unorganized, flakey, inefficient and not take things as seriously as I do. I’d rather do it myself (whatever “it” may be) than deal with the repercussions of someone doing it wrong. I also hate asking for help (HATE.) and usually try to go it alone where work is concerned. I’m a very social person and thrive off interaction with others, but I tend to be a lone wolf when it comes to work. This isn’t necessarily a positive thing, and being overly-harsh or critical towards others is a character trait I’m not super proud of (but I’m working on it!). I share this to illustrate how great Shannon is. I don’t collaborate with her begrudgingly. I do it because it’s fun! And over the years, I’ve learned that we can accomplish way more together than I could ever do on my own.

So in honor of Shannon’s birthday, I thought I’d share five things to look for in a business partner in case you ever find yourself on the hunt. This list is not definitive, and I could (and maybe will!) expand on it a lot, but these are five things that make working with Shannon a joy!

In no particular order……….

Generous – If Shannon knows I’m interested in something she brings me what I need. I’m about to start a garden in my backyard (exciting! terrifying!) and she brought me books to read and actual SEEDS. And not just a few seeds, she brought me an amazing assortment of seeds to choose from and only presented me with options that can be planted right now…because she knows how ignorant I am! This generosity is something that extends into our business practices and has helped us build a loyal following.

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I posted this photo on Facebook a couple of years ago with the caption, “Christy and Shannon have a new idea for ICE. Davis is not amused, haha.” The photo was staged and in reality Davis, my husband, is very supportive of everything we do, but it’s true…we have new ideas that require a lot of hard work ALL THE TIME.

Full of Ideas – OMG. There are times when I have literally said, “No more. I can’t take any more right now.” Shannon always has new ideas. This is wonderful for a business. It means we always have new things to try. We’re never standing there like, “Well, I guess we’ve tried it all. Better shut it down.” Ideas are what has kept us going this long and will help us succeed in the future. I tell her I can’t take any more with a laugh. I always want more ideas. There are just occasions when our plates are full to overflowing!

Hardworking – I’m a hard worker and I need to feel like the person I’m working with is working just as hard as I am. If this isn’t the case, I start to feel resentment and the arrangement just isn’t going to work out ultimately. Shannon and I have both maintained full-time jobs for the last 9 years while working on ICE, which is…really hard work. We both juggle a lot. I never have any doubt that Shannon is taking care of what needs to be taken care of, and if she says she will do something, she does it. Lucky for me, she handles a lot of things that I have no desire to take care of, which makes this dream job I’ve created for myself dreamy. We both magically gravitate towards different tasks. Yay!

Fun – If you are picking a business partner make sure they are pleasant and fun to be around. You are going to spend A LOT of time with this person. I get sick of everyone when I spend insane amounts of time with them but it’s very, very rare with Shannon. When it does happen it usually means I’m exhausted and would hate any human I had to deal with at that particular moment. It isn’t specifically about her. We always make each other laugh and find ways to make even grueling tasks more fun. There are few people I would sing classic rock hits to for an extended period of time while driving through the mountains of Tennessee on the final stretch of the drive home from Chicago after a long craft market weekend in hopes of not only keeping them awake while they drive but also hoping to offer some silliness to lighten the gravity of the sleepy situation! And there are few people who would want me to do this. Shannon is one of them.

Enthusiastic – I’ve always felt that enthusiasm is infectious. If you aren’t enthusiastic about your business or project or whatever then no one else is going to be either. Shannon and I are both enthusiastic (and passionate for that matter) about what we’re doing. This is particularly important when you have to work really hard to make something happen. Enthusiasm can wane. Luckily, we are able to share the burden of keeping enthusiasm up by taking turns during tough projects. There have been times when tears were shed (like when we set up our first pop-up shop and had too little time + didn’t know what we were doing) and sometimes you need to take turns remembering why you got into a project in the first place. Shannon is always able to get me back on track with loving what we’re doing.

Thank you for being my business partner, Shannon.

-Christy

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