Last night I joined in for another class from the sweet ladies of Influence. The class was on Allies and Collaborators taught by Hayley of The Tiny Twig and it was so very good. If you haven’t had the chance to participate in a class, you totally should. These women are wise, genuine, and centered on Jesus, and we have so much to learn from each other.
I couldn’t help relate many of Hayley’s teaching to the offline business I run with my dear friend Heidi. It’s a seasonal consignment event we host twice a year. (You know, that business I mentioned that gives me
dreams nightmares about being buried alive in clothes? Yeah, that one.)
Coming fresh out of the crazy that is sale week, I am reflecting a bit on the Lord’s goodness in preserving, growing, and sustaining our friendship and business over time. Here are my thoughts:
Disclaimer: These are so not business-y tips; if that’s what you’re looking for, I am probably not your gal. Actually, I’ve never taken a business class, so it’s quite possible some of these entirely contradict proper business teaching. But these are real choices we made along the way that I believe have been important to our growth as a small business and as friends.
- We dream together. From the very beginning, we’ve always allowed each other to voice (crazy) dreams and not call each other crazy. Heidi’s first email to me about the possibility of starting up the consignment sale came after she saw a segment of two friends on Good Morning America that started a seasonal consignment event and she wanted to know if I might be interested in starting one. And so it began.
- We fail. Trust me, we’ve made bundles of mistakes and still mess up. We’ve had ideas that flopped, like renting retail space to sell some of our own thrifted items. While we hung in their for a good amount of time, it ultimately was not right for our business.
- We tithe and give. This may feel too personal for some folks but I feel strongly on this one. From the first sale when we brought home next to nothing, we made the decision to always give at least 10% of the sale profits to an organization or non-profit group. We also each personally tithe at least 10% of our individual take home profit to our church. I won’t go into the whole tithing thing now, except to say that it’s a heart thing. For us, Village Closet is a business that provides income for our families, but we have always had a dream of using the funds for Kingdom things. How we spend our money as a business reflects that.
- We make it personal. We’ve cried on each others’ shoulders and walked each other through personal stuff. So, I really do get that this could not be more un-businessy, if we were in the “real” business world. But when you’re in business with a sister in Christ, the personal and business worlds do go together. How can they not? Amen.
- We pray. Individually and together over our business, over our shoppers, consignors, families, the food, the finances, all of it. Don’t read that like, “Aha, we are super spiritual, we pray for our business!” because it’s so not. I so very much need to pray more in all areas of my life, including VC. But we do pray over all aspects of our work.
- We be cheap. And by cheap, I mean we started and continue to run the business 100% debt free. I’m sure this may not be possible or even advisable for all or even most businesses, but for us, we decided right up front not to take out a loan for our business. I have no doubt that our initial growth could have been much quicker had we had more funds up front, but we chose a road less traveled, and it worked with our business model. If you are considering starting a creative business, it is worth some intentional brainstorming on how you can start up with the least amount of debt.
- We do grace. Hayley spoke so beautifully on this in the class, and for Heidi and I, generously giving grace to each other has probably been the single greatest reason we have stuck with each other for five years. We both have made mistakes. We both have dropped the ball. Yet, we choose to be ruled by Grace, not grudges. It is the better way. I promise.
Thank you Hayley for stirring up many of these thoughts through your class. So value your leadership in this area!
What about you? Have you experienced success in a partnership or business that goes beyond pure financial success? What are your tips? If not, what other questions do you have about creative businesses and partnerships?