Welcome to Two Women Shop, an interview series that gives a little love to our friends who may not be One Woman Shops- but are awesome nonetheless. Join us as we chat with sisters, best friends, and business partners who are going it together as Two Women Shops!
Tell me about yourselves and your business!
Clarity on Fire (formerly Project 20-Something) is a life, career, and relationship coaching company for women in their 20s and 30s who are looking for clarity, direction, and an action plan for creating a life they love.
We're Rachel East and Kristen Walker, two twenty-somethings with a burning passion for changing lives. So, long story short: We became coaches because we were both incredibly, mind-numbingly tired of "the way things were." Desk jobs. “Meh” relationships. Dull routines. They were tired, boring, and exhausting. And they were also, most importantly, unconscious. So, we got conscious. We realized that life doesn't have to be "the way it is." There's no joy in adhering to what society, or anyone else, thinks you "should" be doing. As our self-awareness grew, we felt called to help other women build consciousness and make bold changes, too.
What prompted you to go into business together? Was it a natural decision, was there an aha moment, did it take a lot of thought?
For us it was a natural decision. Since college, we’ve known that we both were passionate about helping women raise their awareness and become empowered to change their lives. Our business ideas have taken a lot of forms over the past few years (writing, therapy, and finally coaching), but there was never a question of starting the business together. It helps that we’re also best friends.
What do you wish you had known about when starting a business?
It takes longer than you think! There are a lot of logistical steps of starting a business – legal and financial, mostly – that people without business degrees might not necessarily understand or be inclined to jump into. If someone had told us to consult with a CPA before we started our business, instead of afterward, it would have saved us a lot of time and confusion!
What do you wish you had known about starting a business with your best friend?
We would have gotten a lot more done from the get go if we had separated our tasks according to our strengths and interests, instead of just splitting them in half. We realized that splitting things down the middle might be “fair,” but it wasn’t balanced. The balance occurred when we learned to completely give responsibility to one person or the other in any given area of our business. Kristen really enjoys networking and blogging and Google Analytics, so she's “in charge” of those things. Rachel loves to negotiate and speak in public, so she manages our partner relationships and writes all of our audio content. We learned that as long as both of us were feeling exhilarated and excited about our roles, then we were on the right track.
Do you have rules to keep your relationship healthy and sane? Do you have any kind of written contract/rules between the two of you?
We don’t have any written contract as of yet, though that’s on our “to do” list, eventually. It helps that we’re in the life coaching business, because conflict isn’t something that’s going to happen very often between two trained coaches. We know how to be direct, honest and intentional in how we communicate with each other, without pushing the other person’s buttons or creating any misinterpretations. I think one of the most important things in any business partnership, especially one between close friends, is to always be direct and open. There’s no room for passive-aggression or misinterpretation in a two-woman business.
What are the greatest rewards and challenges of running a business together?
The greatest reward is having a friend who gets to share in the excitement of running a business that you’re both passionate about. It’s very cool to get to share part of your “life purpose” with someone who gets it as well as you do.
The greatest challenge is probably the compromises you sometimes have to make. When you’re a sole business owner, every decision is your own. With a partner who is as equally invested as you are, you have to reach a certain harmony about most everything prior to taking action. We’ve compromised on a number of things (creative, logistical, etc.) that we probably would have done differently if either of us had been flying solo.
Any words of advice for best friends or sisters going into business together?
Don’t go into business with just any old friend or family member. There are certain people who you’re going to have a lovely relationship with … so long as it’s kept personal, and maybe at a distance. Being business partners with a friend or relative means you’re going to see a whole lot of them, talk to them often, and have to make decisions with them about things that you could very well disagree about. So make sure you can have healthy disagreements with your future business partner, and that you’re comfortable adding business into an otherwise personal relationship. They often don’t mix, and one of them (the relationship or business) could implode as a result.
In our business, I think we have an understanding that we’ll always be friends first, business partners second. We’ve openly acknowledged that there may come a time when we choose to go our separate ways as business partners, but we’ll always be each other’s friend.
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