#1- Mutual respect
This is a must-have in any partnership. Respect for another essentially means to hold a deep feeling of admiration for what the other person brings to the table. Denis and I each have very different personalities, skills, and priorities when it comes to accomplishing stuff. I’m the go-getter who likes results (preferably yesterday), where Denis is more thoughtful, patient and considered. I’m the creative who gets wrapped up in pursuing new and exciting endeavours, where he’s more constant and contented, continuing on with what’s working well and adding in doses of practicality. We are super different from each other, and those differences can make for great success in our partnership, or they could easily be the cause of total friction and unraveling. Making things work between two different people comes through affirming and appreciating each other’s unique strengths and abilities, and being able to recognize the differences as overall assets to the partnership.
#2- Distinctive roles
This goes right along with recognizing each other’s strengths and interests. Frankly, the larger a company (or family) grows, the more tasks there are to do, and so responsibilities need to be divided up to be able to meet the demands and accomplish everything successfully. In any operation, there are areas where one person will naturally shine more than the other and will find the work easier to do, so it’s important to take advantage of that. In our biz, I naturally love the creative, connective and organizational pieces– those play to my passions and strengths– so as far as tasks go, I take on all the social media, marketing, and administrative side of things. Denis on the other hand prefers more of the hands-on, scientific, and diligent outdoor work. He lives for being in the fields, as well as record keeping, studying stats, and finding new ways to be more efficient– and he’s super great at it! Dividing up tasks and developing roles sets a partnership up for greater success, rather than both people trying to do and be everything all the time.
3- Shared Values
My first two points focused on capitalizing upon your differences, but in the same breath it’s equally important to establish the place where you two meet! What values and goals do you share together? What are the most important things in this that you are both striving to achieve? For Denis and I, there are a couple of areas that we find we always come together on, beyond both wanting the business to do well and succeed. One is our mutual care for others. For us, people always matter above profit, and we want our lives and business to reflect that. Another core value we share is ‘family before farm’. We each work hard at the business and invest every bit we have into it to make it a success (and bring our kids into that as well), however, when it comes down to it, we choose to set aside work for family and to ultimately be there for each other and the kids. That means prioritizing time for family nights, date nights, and mealtimes together regardless of how much else there is still to do (there will always be more work to do than time to do it on the farm). It also means that if one of the members is going through a tough time or dealing with something big, we make sure to notice and really show up for them and take time to care, even when it means setting something else important aside for a bit. No matter how much we are invested in it, the business is not the be all and end all. Relationships and people take top priority for us.