Four lessons from running a start-up with a partner

Starting a business with your significant other can put untold stresses and strains on your relationship at times, but it can also be the start of something beautiful. In today’s guest blog, fashion entrepreneur Oscar Pinto-Hervia tells us what he discovered by starting up with his partner…

In the late 70s I left Chile and came to the UK as a political refugee. I have always loved fashion and appreciated visually beautiful work, so once I was based in the UK it was only natural for me to study Art at Manchester Polytechnic in the early 80s. This led me to be given my first opportunity in fashion retailing and buying by one of Manchester’s leading Fashion Independents in 1986.

This experience was invaluable and shortly after this period, I met my personal partner and later business partner, Richard, who I continue to work with to this day. We set up Hervia in 1993 born out of a love of high-end fashion and entrepreneurial ambition, and since the opening we have been part of some amazing collaborations with designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Y-3.

Whilst for some people, the thought of working with their spouse is a thought they can’t comprehend, myself and Richard are in agreement that for us, it was one of the most sensible business decisions we’ve ever made. Disagreements in relationships are natural, and it’s by no means a different story for business relationships, however, I strongly believe that going into business with a spouse has the potential to really make you stand out from the crowd. Below I share my points for this case.

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Different character traits complement each other

Whilst it’s important to go into business with someone who has the same mind-set as you, I think it certainly makes things interesting if you have different personality traits. Whilst my role as Chief Buyer means I work creatively when collaborating with designers on upcoming collections, Richard’s business-mind ensures that sensible decisions are made, budgets are kept to and targets are met. They say that opposites attract and in business two opposing personalities can balance each other out, and offer a much more rounded business.

Read: Running a business with a sibling

Disagreements can have positive outcomes

One preconception of working in business alongside your spouse is that should you have a disagreement, it would make for a tense and uncomfortable office environment. However, the way I see it is that disagreements can actually have positive outcomes because the person you disagree with can help you to see things from a different perspective, which in turn can open your mind to alterative options for the business.

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Spending too much time together is not an issue

If you share a business and a life together I don’t think that spending too much time together is really an issue. If you need to make a big decision, sometimes it can help to consider everything when you’re in your most relaxed environment, and have time to reflect on the issue properly, ensuring you don’t make any rash decisions. So if discussing work over dinner together is a way you can really chat things through, then you may as well exploit the extra time you have together. Let’s just say you’ll never run out of things to say to one another!

Sharing a passion will always impress

Whilst couples will have a difference of opinion on certain issues, it is important to remember the most important thing you do share in common is a passion for wanting the business to be a success. I think that when suppliers, investors and other external companies meet with a couple who are in business together, they will always be impressed by the passion and enthusiasm that they share.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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