Starting a business is tough. The entrepreneurial journey is often described as one of the loneliest roads to travel. So, what if you could make that journey just a little bit easier?
Statistics tell us that a partnership is four times more likely to succeed than a sole proprietorship, but partnerships can also lead to problems, especially if both individuals do not share the same goals and values.
Consider the entrepreneur who enters into a partnership without fully fleshing out the values of the business. How long until the partners start disagreeing on vital business points?
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Without an equal power balance, the ability to communicate and be open and honest with each other, and shared values, partnerships can cause more harm than good.
So, how do you choose the right start-up partner?
For the love of furniture
For Chloe Sweerts and JJ de Castro Maia, a business partnership grew from a shared love for unique furniture pieces – the rest was just semantics.
“Our partnership was very intuitive,” Sweerts explains. “I saw one of JJ’s pieces in an elevator in the Main Street Life apartments in Maboneng precinct. We were both living in the same apartment block and he had made an elevator library. It was just a hobby, but I saw huge potential in his unique pieces.”
Sweerts and De Castro Maia began to discuss the possibility of starting a business together and Work was founded in 2010.
“I run the business and we both conceptualise the new designs, and collaborate with other artists,” Sweerts explains, adding that the business plan was developed once the partners were able to confirm that they had a shared vision.
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The basis of the partnership is passion. “We made a conscious decision to only make pieces that resonate with us,” she says.
“At the beginning we lost focus of this and did whatever was asked of us. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you are a start-up and you need the income.”
Making it work
The partnership helped both Sweerts and De Castro Maia focus on what was important, however. “If you have a shared vision you can support each other in achieving your joint goals,” says Sweerts.
“We chose to be a niche furniture manufacturer, and sometimes we’ve needed to remind each other exactly what our goals are.
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This joint support has stood us in good stead, and seen us collaborate with artists who we have huge respect for, and stick to our initial business plan of hand-made furniture.”
With both retail and corporate clients, and a number of ranges to their name already, the team at Work is focusing on taking the brand national.
The business has grown to include a factory with four full time employees, and an additional three running the warehouse, with Sweerts based in the retail store in Arts on Main.