This is the third article in a series where the founders of Biashara 360 share their startup story. This was a long interview that couldn’t fit into one blog post. So we’re sharing it in a 4-week series.

Also, unlike the other interviews with business women, the recording for this particular interview will only be available at the end of the series.

There is a wealth of information and motivation in this series. So we recommend that you download the recording once it’s available and listen to it in your free time or on your regular commute.

In the other articles in this series, we talk about:

Today’s article expands on our lessons for women in business. These are powerful lessons, not just for women, but for anyone wanting to get into a partnership.

The Biashara 360 Startup Story

Ten Lessons for Business Women

1. Don’t forget relationships

When we started the business, we decided that any time we have to make a choice between business and friendship, we’ll choose friendship. The relationship has to remain intact. This conversation and agreement helped us get back on track after fights.

It’s also important for all partners to keep touching base with each other beyond the business. This will ensure that you don’t forget the humans behind the business.

2. Theory and reality are very different!

Ideas can look good on paper or in theory. However, you only get to understand what you’re going to face when you get into the business.

We started realizing this lesson from Day 1 of our partnership. The main lesson learnt here is that it’s possible to have a good idea, but when it comes to implementation, the idea doesn’t end up as good as you expected.

3. Get external support and accountability

Have an external coach or voice of reason especially when strategizing and planning, even if this is your area of expertise. For example, we had 2 business coaches in our business and we still ended up confusing ourselves. We’re able to do it for other women, and when it came to us, suddenly we couldn’t see it.

Have people around you who check you, not just in business, but in all areas of life. You need people who you trust who can call you out. They tell you when they see you’re not OK or when they see that you have something weighing on you. Talk to such people before you get into any business partnership or when making big decisions.

4. Physical meetings are necessary

When setting up a virtual, multi-town, or multi-country business, have as many physical meetings as you can at startup. Once the business is set up, you still require a lot of physical touch between partners, possibly on a monthly or quarterly basis.

During these meetings, also find out how everyone is doing at a personal level. It’s always easier to see when things are not OK by observing body language and emotions.

We set up the business from different towns and only had 2 physical meetings way after setup and registration. In the end the lack of constant physical touch had a negative impact on us and the business.

5. Be authentic and responsible

You cannot be a different person in business from who you are in outside the business. Also, you can’t run a business with a different set of values from your normal ones because you’ll not be authentic.

Secondly, if you’re ahead of your partners in your planning or personal development, you have a responsibility to also identify the growth they may need. If you can, help them reach there. If you can’t, help them work their way to that growth if they want to.

Finally, don’t push your partners to grow if you’re clearly ahead of them. Instead of focusing on the potential in them, start identifying what you can do to help them grow.

6. Check your motives when getting into a partnership

Don’t get into business to do things for your partners or because you admire them. Don’t force it if you can’t see your role or don’t feel like you belong. If you’re not equally yoked, you will have challenges. So identify where you need to grow, create a plan for your growth, and implement the plan.

In addition to this, ensure that you have clarity of purpose as a team so that your purpose as partners is the same. If you’re authentic, tell the truth, and fight about things before you get into the business, you have a higher chance of growing together. You also have a higher chance of the business being solid.

Not having a solid foundation was one of our biggest mistakes. We were also at very different levels of personal growth, but didn’t realize it at the beginning.

If you’re not at the same level of personal growth, there’s a high likelihood that the partnership will not succeed. This is because there will always be one or more people who call the shots even without knowing that they’re calling the shots. They naturally just start moving the business in the direction that they want.

7. Be honest with yourself and your partners 

Encourage open-ended communication and create an environment where people can communicate freely. At the individual level, be honest when you feel like you’re receiving a beating or that things are not moving the way that you want.

Honest conversations break the ice and remind you that the business is made up of humans. They also come in handy when you have to make really tough decisions, which happens in business.

We were so used to one another that we didn’t give feedback when it was needed. At times, that lack of feedback made us not move in the direction that we wanted to.

For example, Lillian and Ronni wished there was something they could help when Caroline was overwhelmed. And Caroline was seeing what they were capable of doing and wondering why they weren’t doing it. So we were at cross purposes and yet no one said anything.

8. Make strategy a part of the pre-partnership process

Hold a strategy session that’s facilitated by an external expert before you set up the business. Consider this process in the same way as premarital counselling. A lot of questions are answered in this session. You also start thinking about the direction you want to take individually and as a group.

Use this session to hash out any issues that arise and make sure that all your balls are aligned. This is important even if you’re having the session a single business owner. If you have partners, the strategy will ensure that you walk together and expect a similar (if not the same) outcome.

Once you draft your strategy in a partnership, keep referring to it. Don’t deviate unless you have very good certifiable reasons why you’re deviating from what you had previously agreed to do.

Creating and implementing such a strategy will ensure harmony, instead of some people feeling that the business is not going their way, or others getting overwhelmed with work.

9. Delay formal registration

If you’re starting a business with partners, first work together for about 6 months before formally registering a company. Apply to register your company after you cross the 6-month line.

You can have non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and sign a partnership agreement to protect you all during this 6-month period. If things don’t work out, you’ll find it easier to ease out of such an arrangement than from a formally registered business.

In our case, we started unravelling just before 6 months and had unravelled completely by 6 months. We’ve ended up spending additional time and money to change the business registration.

We’ve also had to make changes in other places like banks and all government registrations. So we advise that you be patient with registration if you have partners.

Additionally, if you’re starting a business while running another one, build the new one slowly. Only leave the old business and move fully into the new business when the new one is a toddler…when it’s making enough money.

10. Be willing to let go

When something is affecting you emotionally or affecting your physical health, and you’ve done everything you can do and it’s not working, be ready to let it go.

Women find it hard to let go. If something is not working for you, let go and be OK with that. Prioritize your health and well-being over finances and the success of a business.

What’s next?

We’ve distilled our main lessons learnt into the ten mentioned above. Next week, we’ll share where we all are today and the way forward for Biashara 360.

In the meantime, you can…

1. Give us your feedback

We’d love to hear from you so feel free to share your thoughts, knowledge, or experience in the Comments section below.

2. Sign up for updates

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3. Get featured in one of our interviews

We interview professional and business women on a regular basis. Contact us if you want to share your experience with other women. For business owners, being featured here also provides extra marketing for your business.

4. Let’s talk

Coaching is a powerful way to jump-start or accelerate your success rate. We have various programs that are suitable for professional and business women. Check out our programs or book a 15 minute call with a coach to find out whether coaching is the right thing for you.

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Biashara 360 Team
Biashara 360 Team

Biashara 360 is a team of coaches with extensive knowledge and experience in training and coaching professional and business women. Our goal is to help high achieving women define success in their own terms, chart their course, and achieve their fullest potential.

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