Written By: Kaleena Morrison, Co-founder, United and Free
Over a year ago, I took the leap and started a business for myself.
Being a mom, I knew this would be a challenge but it was one of those things I HAD to do – it was my passion.
I wanted to create something for myself that others would enjoy, that held my values and beliefs. Something that held challenges, risks and rewards, that at the end of the day I could say this is mine.
Growing up my father worked in a dairy. He was one of the head food formulators that came up with hundreds of formulations over the years.
After working for the dairy for 30 years, he decided it was time to start his own business venture and left to create a natural and organic ice cream company in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Growing up, my brother and I grew up in a fast-paced business environment that taught us a lot. We learned how to run a business, how to formulate products, and most importantly, to hold firmly to your beliefs and values.
Learning these traits young in life is what pushed me onto my current career path.
About two years ago I called my brother, Brandon, who at the time lived on Canada’s East Coast. We’ve always been a close family but living on opposite sides of the country had made us distant. Prior to this phone call, it would have been at least two years before I’d seen my brother face-to-face.
After a long talk, I learned that we were both feeling the need to start our own venture.
My brother was creating beard balms for himself on the East Coast and I was on the West Coast wanting to start my own natural skincare business.
I wanted to start a natural company that didn’t use any synthetic ingredients or cosmetic fillers. I needed to create a product that I would use every day and others would love. I wanted to create something that my daughter can be proud of and inspire her on her own journey one day.
It’s funny because I can’t remember how the whole conversation went with my brother but after about an hour of talking things out, brainstorming what products we could create together and how far we could take it, we decided to go for it!
I asked him to move out west so we could start our business venture. A month later, he bought a plane ticket and was on a flight to Vancouver.
If you are curious about starting a business with your sibling, here are the three most important things I’ve learned from starting a business with my brother.
This may seem like something that is a no-brainer. Clearly understanding your own weaknesses and overcoming them is one of the only ways to progress forward in life and business.
However, when you’re working with a team, it is often harder to understand someone else’s weaknesses and strengths. You have to be able to be flexible enough to lend a hand or help where the other member is weak. You also have to allow them to help you when you’re not in your strong suit.
One of the things I hear repeatedly, almost every day when I mention that I’ve started a business with my brother is, “How do you guys not kill each other!?”
We’ve had our moments…
One thing I can say for sure is we work best when we stop butting heads and focus on each other’s strengths.
Our best state of work progression is to find a working balance between us and allowing the other person to take over when it is needed. This has been one of the key components for allowing us to consistently move forward.
Seriously, I cannot stress this enough! When you and your team have a rough work week and you manage to pull it all together and come out on top, that’s a serious accomplishment.
You need to celebrate the win as a team! Go out to dinner, be grateful to each other, reward yourselves for a job well done.
By celebrating your accomplishments, you end up making the next challenge less of a mountain to climb! Simply saying “You’re doing a kick-ass job” or giving your teammate props for a job well done goes a long way!
When you reward yourselves for the win, you’re telling each other “we killed it and the next time it’ll be much easier.”
So, if you’ve made it this far reading this story about how I started a business with my brother and how we’ve come to understand and respect each other as a business team, I’ll leave you with one last takeaway.
Having someone there who understands your hardships and is willing to fight the fight with you is more than having a business partner or teammate – it’s having a family.