Have you ever been sitting in your office and wonder if anyone else could POSSIBLY run into the same problem you are having at this very moment as a business owner? Does it drive you crazy trying to figure out how to charge for your hard earned knowledge when someone asks for “simple advice?” Are you frustrated with trying to have a happy work/life balance, but don’t have any girlfriends who work for themselves who you can commiserate with?
It’s a risk to put yourself out there emotionally with other businesswomen because it makes you vulnerable and open to judgement. It is not easy to let your guard down and admit fear and frustration come with the territory of running your own business. We don’t need just Best Friends, we need Best Business Friends who “get” exactly what we are going through on a daily basis, 24/7, as sole proprietors of our own business. Best friends are our lifeline and give us unconditional love and support that we cannot live without. However, most often they cannot give us advice on how to navigate the world of entrepreneurs. Women who run their own business face different issues that women who work for corporations. For that, we are grateful if we can find a kindred spirit willing to open up with her struggles and solutions so we don’t feel alone when dealing with our own.
Here is the story of two women who were open to being genuine and honest about sharing the trials and tribulations of running their own business and got a Best Business Friend Forever out of that risk. We thought it would be helpful, inspiring and maybe even a bit hopeful if we had Jenn Sprinkle and Kathy Hanson share why it is so meaningful to discover how much you can lean on and count on another businesswoman if you open yourself up to the possibility.
Jenn and Kathy came from two different worlds this past winter—big blue sky warm Texas and the freezing cold tundra of Minnesota. Jenn, founder of Waxpaper Design House has southern charm coupled with an easy drawl that belies her savvy business acumen and years of hard earned experience as a world business traveler and designer, not to mention her cowboy work ethic. Kathy, founder of Backpocket Strategy is energetic and infectious with her passion to invigorate businesswomen to see all the possibilities in their work and personal life—she sometimes scares people with her enthusiasm for taking on a challenge (dare I say bossypants?). These two women may seem vastly different on the outside—a 15 year age difference, one with teens, one not yet a mother, one with an office in a modern, clean house, one in a 110 year old work-in-progress farmhouse… Yet they became fast friends and colleagues, confidantes and soul-sisters within a month of meeting. Kathy and Jenn instinctively understood each other and felt a common bond in how they saw the world and worked as entrepreneurs. They felt lucky to have found each other and that they are both open to the value a long distance business relationship can bring to a sole proprietors/ business owner who each work 24/7 on her own business. Those of us who don’t have a business coach or a mentor surely realize what an unexpected blessing it is to find a like-minded soul in this busy world.
Jenn and Kathy met on the CRAVE Dallas guide project (Kathy was Team Director, Jenn was Dallas City Leader) and they had no idea that what seemed like a one time collaboration would turn into a synergistic partnership that would grow both of their businesses in ways they never could have foreseen. More importantly, this experience allowed them to develop a bond as businesswomen that neither of them had experienced before.
In a world with unlimited communication possibilities and yet infrequent personal interaction, Jenn and Kathy realized that they shared a similar yet rare work ethic, working style and personal commitment to professional excellence. Before long, they were coming up with strategies on how to work together despite the miles apart.
“When I first met Jenn I thought that she was a darling Southern belle. Within 15 minutes of working with her in the field in Dallas, I knew she had a work ethic and wisdom that was beyond her years. By lunchtime I secretly felt that she and I had more in common than either of us was letting on.”
“After working with Kathy on my CRAVE guide for only a few weeks, I began to realize that she was a great source of comfort and wisdom for the everyday frustrations that I feel as an entrepreneur running a business. It became routine for me to pick up the phone to talk with Kathy about something that I had previously not considered talking with anyone about. Kathy is authentic and caring, while also very professional. I began to count on our phone calls as a source of inspiration and positive feedback without even realizing it. I gained confidence in myself and my business model because Kathy was there to reassure me I wasn’t crazy with the expectations I had set for myself and my business.”
“Our similar work styles started to become evident throughout our project. How we treated others, our interns, the production staff, clients… it all became rather obvious that while we assumed many people operated as we did, it was considered very rare in the work place. Soon it became more and more enjoyable and less like “work” to get the project done. At some point in the first three months, I started asking Jenn questions about her work outside of CRAVE so I could get a sense of how we might work together after her book was done.”
Jenn admits, “I had a large scale project in the back of my mind that I always wanted to undertake but did not have the wherewithal or bandwidth to commit to. After working with Kathy and gleaning from her, her life philosophy and worldview—I knew I could trust her with helping me undertake this big idea of mine. Immediately, Kathy took the ball and ran with it and helped me psychologically, legally and strategically figure out the steps necessary to begin the process.”
Both agree, “What we didn’t realize is how much comfort it brings to finally find someone who validates your secret concerns. While it may seem quite scary or time consuming to open up emotionally to another businesswoman—the rewards vastly outweigh the risk if you both are willing to be genuine and authentic about how hard it is to be successful as a businesswomen, wife, mother, sister, friend, partner. ”
Jenn and Kathy are prime examples of the many benefits that comes from the most unexpected places (Texas and Minnesota!) when you open yourself up to admitting you need support and help as a business woman. Always keep an eye out for professional soulmates in the most unexpected places—you just never know where you will find a BBFF!