Our new start-up took two women with entirely different backgrounds and some crossover skills. How would we make it work? MARCIA GRIFFIN
By Marcia Griffin
My new start-up, griffin+row, threw two women together that had both been successful in our own right. But we have had to learn to acknowledge those skills to create the best outcomes for the new venture.
Yvonne Row and I have run successful businesses all our lives. I had 16 years running Pola, a direct selling company, and had been listening over that time to what women want from a skincare product. My business partner Yvonne has had 12 years experience running Passion Foods, an eco-lifestyle store base around natural health.
One of the biggest issues for our start up was the question of the partnership.
- Did we need one?
- How would this work?
- Who would do what?
- How would we ensure equity in workloads and input?
- How could we maximise our varied skills?
- How would we ensure clear communication?
- Would we enjoy working together?
- Would this ruin a long standing friendship?
- Were we smart enough to overlook the small issues to achieve the big goals?
- Did we have the same vision and goals?
We did a lot of meeting and talking just to explore these issues – both of us felt there would be no point in a great business concept if we could not work together – and it’s been amazing how those early discussions really helped in developing some deep understandings about each other’s business and personal goals.
The conversation has been interesting as it started with Yvonne’s clients – those people already aware of health and naturals.
For my part I had to be convinced that we could find natural ingredients that targeted anti-aging – that exploration in itself was interesting – so Yvonne brought a scientist into the conversation. He had a long history of working across science and nature and a deep understanding of the anti-aging benefits of various plant-based ingredients.
This then became a model for ongoing research. Whenever we had a question we could not answer we took advice from people at the top of their industry.
Many years ago, a mentor had given me this advice: The quality of your life relates to the quality of your questions.
I have always found it fantastic the way people are prepared to give advice and information. I guess for my part I have mentored a lot of people, giving away a lot of what I have learnt, and I think that the willingness to share ideas (not confidential ones of course) is tremendously valuable.
We would then discuss the information we were given and see if our conclusions concurred. This was a great way of trialling our ability to relate and reach consensus.
The other thing that we had to contend with was that we were so focused on creating a breakthrough category that we had to reach into new territory – a small tight range of daily products, suitable for all age groups.
We wanted to develop a product that had sound benefits in a market that is so crowded, and we were in total agreement that unless we could achieve all the major critical success factors we would simply treat all this as an interesting exercise and walk away.
We are both very conscious that the conversation needs to continue as business is never static and needs a pro-active approach.
To read more Marcia Griffin blogs, click here.
Marcia’s latest book, High Heeled Success (pictured right), and is a frank account of building a business from a solitary sales person to a multi-million dollar business with 4700 sales consultants around Australia and New Zealand.
It recounts successes and failures along the way and was written to inspire entrepreneurs, particularly women, to triumph in business.
Marcia’s latest venture is skin care company griffin+row.