How to have a long-distance relationship with your co-founder
My sister and I are very, very close. Which is a funny thing to say, because physically at least, we couldn't be further apart.
From day one of Mustard Made (long before it, actually,) she's lived in London while I live in Newcastle, Australia. We co-founded, built, scaled and grew this business from opposite sides of the world, and while it hasn't always been easy, it has been the best thing we've ever done together. Apart.
Long-distance relationships have a bad reputation. But we're living in a world that makes it easier than ever to work from anywhere. So if you're contemplating being a digital nomad, or starting a business over Zoom, here are six things I've learned about being in a long-distance working relationship.
use the cloud
First things first: the practical. Store everything on the cloud so it's accessible while one of you is asleep. You can view timezone differences as a barrier, or you can choose to make the most of them. Because of the way we work, there is almost never a time when someone isn't working on Mustard, somewhere in the world. Our customer service channels are open 24/7. That's pretty cool!
When your communications aren't face-to-face, think about how they're going to land. What time of day will they receive the email? My Monday morning is Jess' Sunday afternoon. No one wants Monday morning energy encroaching on their Sunday, so I schedule emails to arrive during work hours. We use the world clock religiously, we have clocks for all our major timezones on the walls of our offices, and I've just figured out that you can add a secondary timezone to your Google calendar. Genius!
Know when something can wait (almost always), be patient with each other and say sorry when you get it wrong. It's simple, but it's important.
You can do anything from anywhere, but that doesn't always mean you should! We prioritise connecting in person regularly because spending time to deep dive and get on the same page sets us up for working together when we are apart. Plus, it's a great excuse to travel together!
trust each other
If you've started a business together, you'd expect that you have each other's best interests at heart. Whenever Jess and I disagree on something, we know we both have the same ultimate end goal, and we share the same values, so we'll find a way to get there together.
know your place
Stay in your own lane! I really believe that the reason we work so well as co-founders is because we each know our strengths and skill sets, and we stick to them. If we both tried to be involved in every aspect of the business it wouldn't work, so we each do what we do and try to take ownership of that.
some final thoughts...
The truth is, I actually think part of our success comes down to the fact that we have had so much space between us. We joke about it, but having almost no crossover in the day-to-day of the business really helps us to just get on with it!
Love Becca x