Doing business with friends

Entrepreneurs talk about the perks and perils of mixing small business and friendship.

Seeing the bright side of working together
small business working with friends babiators
Ted and Molly Fienning; Carolyn and Matthew Guard
Name: Molly Fienning, 32
Business: Babiators, Atlanta

My husband, Ted, an F/A-18 pilot, knows that pilots are issued aviators because they protect their eyes in bright sunlight. We noticed that we rarely saw children wearing sunglasses, and were inspired to create stylish aviators to protect children's eyes. In 2011, we teamed up with Carolyn and Matthew Guard, our friends since we were undergraduates at Harvard, and formed Babiators.

Carolyn and Matthew are analytical, conservative, detailed planners, which is essential for finance and operations. Ted and I are creative, extroverted, quick decision-makers, which is important for design, marketing and business relationships.

These differences can prompt minor tensions. For instance, in discussing a new product line recently, I was focusing on aesthetics and quality while Matthew was expressing concerns about timeline and budget.

The honeymoon period applies to business partners as much as romantic relationships, so make sure you're prepared for sunny weather and stormy weather. Still, if it weren't for our friendship, Babiators would not be such a success. Our sunglasses are sold in 25 countries at more than 1,000 stores, including Nordstrom, Harrod's and Bloomingdales.com.

Meanwhile, Carolyn and Matthew have learned that Ted and I benefit from praise for our successes. Ted and I have learned that Matthew and Carolyn benefit from time to process decisions.


- Last updated April 24 2013 09:25 AM ET
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