When Jenny and I went into business together, we honestly did not know each other all that well. I mean, I knew she was good at design, and she knew that I knew business, other than that we were just acquaintances. Not something I advise necessarily but I can’t explain it other than I knew this was a journey I was supposed to follow, so I leaned in and put my trust in her.
I often get asked, “how in the world is your business partner literally across the country?”. Well sometimes, people are put into your life at different points and I really feel that she was put in my life for multiple reasons and vice versa. We both have bettered each others lives in different ways. She has become one of my closest friends and with the amount of skype hours we log, we probably see each other more than she would like most days. I am going to share how we met, how we are different, how we worked when starting the company, and our current roles.
How did we meet?
In short, I was writing for a magazine, Behind the Shutter, where Jenny was working as the art director and production manager. In 2014, we both ended up parting ways from the magazine. Jenny was a talented, undervalued individual and she started working as a freelance designer after leaving the magazine. I started hiring Jenny for design work in my photography business and we started talking about business, life, etc. A conversation in May 2015 changed both of our lives forever. I told her I wanted to one day write a book sharing how to be efficient and productive (which is now Start Balancing) and she shared her dream was to one day create a planner and she sent me over a screenshot of a page she had designed. Light bulb moment, and I said “Jenny let’s combine our ideas. Your planner with my financial, goal setting, and planning aspects that can help others plan for success in their lives.” She was like, “okay.” We created a logo in May 2015, built a website, and launched preorders of our beta planner in 2015. You can read more in-depth the startup story here.
How are we different?
We are so different it is not even funny. BUT I feel like there are a couple key areas where we are very similar that makes us work well together, and for that matter, the only way we can run a company across the country from each other. Mainly, she is a hard worker like myself, and she is organized although also she is creative. I have a really hard time working with someone who is not organized or efficient if they can’t be trained. Everyone always asks if she is moving here. For now, (wink, wink) that answer is no. Honestly, what we currently do works and she has shifted her schedule to make sure it works. Probably the hardest thing is the time difference as we are three hours apart and I am an early bird! So, here are some ways we are different…
Jenny…. obviously a very talented graphic designer, she is loyal to the core, organized (minus emails sometimes, #truth), work ethic is spot on, she is an amazing mom and has raised a very smart young man on her own, she is savvy at marketing, branding, messaging. She is also someone that is in the moment and there to enjoy life. She is always pushing me to stop and smell the roses. My personality is “go BIG or go home” and she is the counterbalance saying “okay, but let’s make sure it makes sense.”
Myself… I am more numbers, analytics, Type A, visionary, hustler, and dreamer. I said this on my Instagram yesterday, but I was built to work. A weakness of mine is reminding myself to counterbalance work with fun. She is a good counterpart not only in business but life.
Just to sum up our differences, she drives a Subaru and listens to country music where I drive an Escalade and listen to rap music. (When the kids are not in the car, I think I am straight up gangsta. 😉
How we worked when we first started?
When you start a company from the ground up YOU are everything. You are the bookkeeper, shipping departments, customer support, marketing manager, I mean you have to oversee the success of the company from all the different angles. When we started, we primarily shared customer support and I oversaw operations, shipping, logistics of ordering, bookkeeping, and setting projections and vision for the company. While she oversaw brand direction, the design of files and working with the supplier to confirm production, social media, and marketing. The first responsibility we gave up was customer service (when we hired our first employee) so we could stop working in the business SO much and continue working on the business. That person also helped with shipping and operations. Slowly over time, we have been able to grow and slowly give up more and more tasks. For a growing company I think it is important that the owners/managers know how to do all tasks, but the more they can delegate and focus their efforts where it matters, the stronger the company will be.
What are our roles now?
I am the CEO of the company. I set the tone for the company and make sure that we are always forward thinking on dates, projections, and vision for the company. I think one of the biggest things I can bring to the table is energy. People are inspired and motivated by working with someone who loves what they do and believes in what they are doing. That is my mojo. I am a pusher and I run START HQ here in Atlanta. Jenny is right there beside me though although she is across the country. She is primarily over the brand of the company and Marketing. We have hired employees whose specific roles are shipping/operations, bookkeeping, customer services, and most recently PR/social media. We outsource facebook marketing, accounting and legal. But we have amazing relationships with each of these companies that they know us very well and operate very similar as if they were on our core team.
Jenny is so much more than my partner and I feel really lucky that we meet and we have each other to counterbalance each other. STARTplanner has changed both our lives and I know for Jenny being a single mom it has gave her a sense of ownership and financial freedom like she has never had before. We are women wanting to show other women that YOU CAN DO anything you put your mind too!
Ultimately, I think that having her by my side has pushed me to new levels. I am pushed by pushing others and having people believe in me. She doesn’t always get the credit she deserves with STARTplanner because I am the spokesperson and a lot of the light gets shined on me on stage. But my “success” is equally hers. Partnerships are not always easy and you have to make sure when to manage the relationship to keep it healthy. Let’s keep going Jenny! 🙂
Here is a couple “looks back” over the last three years.
First planner unboxing. I mean look at that planner so cute right! 😉
In Arizona when we said “Okay, let’s go big or go home.” With a giant cactus in the background (Is it just me, or does it look totally phallic?)
We a little gangsta! 😉
Golf cart riding, video production, making things happen!
Trademarks… in hand!
Most recently the official signing our new building START HQ!