Three continents. Three partners who have never met before. One goal. This is my story and the lessons learned.
Two years ago, I started a business with two people I’ve never seen before. I only spoke with one of them on the phone who introduced me to the other person after a month.
I was doing just okay in my consulting and freelance business. My business magazine, IdeasPlusBusiness, was in great shape. I had full control of everything. My work hours, my rates, my clients. I was in full control.
But, my new partners wanted me to relinquish all these controls. They want us to start a business together where all decisions will be made together.
This is not new to me. I’ve started several businesses on a small scale with partners “that I can see” that left a sour taste in my mouth. So, starting a scale-able business with partners that I’ve not met physically is a big risk for me.
I was naturally scared. The only connections I had with my partners was made possible as a result of advancement in technology. Anything can go wrong especially when it involves money.
Our relationship started as clients and then progressed into something stronger. But, the fear was still there.
I was naturally wary of these people even after they’ve demonstrated over time that I’ve nothing to worry about. That I can trust them. I have more to lose in this relationship. I am practically giving up my freedom.
So here is how I overcame my fears of starting a business across borders without physically meeting my partners.
1. Clear and timely communication
“What are your short term goals in the next year? What are your long term goals in the next four years?” These are the exact questions one of my partners asked me at the beginning of our partnership.
These questions are not new to me. Anyone can ask anyone these questions just to stroke their ego. I know my goals. Short term and long term goals. But I needed to be sure if I’m talking to the right person.
Before we had that conversation, we already spoke about the possibility of us starting a business together so as to multiply our output and revenue.
But I had to put in on hold because I needed to think deeply about it and sort out all pending works before me.
Few months after, we had a clear and honest conversation with each other on what we wanted to do together to know if our goals aligned or not.
We found out that our goals aligned and we continued with the project.
Building a business, successful or not, is all about sacrifice. You’ve got to sacrifice your time, money, comfort, and every other thing that’s valuable to you if need be.
Sacrifice is even harder to achieve when you’ve got responsibilities as it applies to my partners and me.
Every new business is like a baby that needs everything a baby needs to survive: love, care, attention, and most importantly long term goals. Remember that my partners and I are in three different continents, different time-zones, and different personalities.
This was a great challenge for us. We needed to prove to ourselves every day that we care about the business. Each of us must show up every day to do our job.
This is not just about financial gains. It’s more about being committed to the business. And proving that to ourselves.
3. Trust the process
Sight can sometimes be a very big distraction. Even though I had never met any of my partners before physically, I chose to trust them because I believe in myself. I believe the business to be my business as much as it is theirs.
I had to change my thoughts. I started seeing the business as a learning process for me. Even though I have a lot to lose but it is actually nothing compared to what I stand to gain from the partnership.
This thinking process cuts across the three of us. We all chose to trust the process even when we had no reasons to.
4. Eliminate failure
We decided consciously or maybe unconsciously not to excuse failure for any reasons on any account. The result is all that matters.
Failure is part of the whole process but it must not be excused. There are several seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the way but we chose to fail forward.
This is very crucial to our business success. My partners and I were frustrated several times in the business. We all know our individual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to some extent. And these factors were ever present because this is a real business with real people.
You can’t deal with all these factors without being patient. Sometimes, it just seems like we’re running in circles every day.
We take some steps forward and then take a few more steps backward. It can be frustrating but with patience, we keep getting stronger and growing every day.
Despite all these daily challenges, one thing is clear, we are on the verge of changing our world because we chose to take action. We took a big risk, and it paid off.