Starting your own business requires faith, resolve and steely determination so it’s no wonder many new businesses are founded as partnerships. At least in a partnership you have someone else you can turn to for enthusiasm, focus and commitment.
The strongest partnerships are those which bring together two or more complementary business brains, producing synergies which create an enterprise which is hugely ambitious in its aspirations.
But what happens if one partner suddenly decides the newly embarked upon entrepreneurial journey is not for them? What if they lose faith in the enterprise and choose to return to the land of the employee? Can the remaining partner push on without them and prove them wrong? Or would the loss of a co-founder deal such a confidence body-blow to a newly founded business that it would be impossible to continue?
It’s a situation which Teddy George found herself in last summer when her business partner Helen Jacobsen decided to leave George Jacobsen, the professional outsourcing company they had founded together at the end of 2007.
With backing from boutique investment bank Spayne Lindsay, Teddy and Helen had created a company which offered small and medium sized businesses the chance to build an operational structure without the headache of a high salary bill by outsourcing functions such as human resources and finance.
Teddy explains, “We provide support services to SMEs and professional partnerships. We make it easier for our clients to do what they do best and operate more efficiently with cost certainty.”
Both partners were thrilled when the business got off to a great start – quickly winning contracts with businesses in diverse sectors such as corporate finance and recruitment. But after just a few months of trading Helen announced that she wanted to leave.
Teddy says, “Helen decided to go off and do something completely different – she was given an opportunity to teach University students and felt she had to take it. In life you have to do the things you want to do so I understand her decision and there’s no bitterness there at all. But at the time it was definitely a blow.
“We had spent a whole year planning our business before launching it. We had extensively researched the market and put together our business plan. We incorporated at the end of 2007 and launched officially at the start of 2008.
“The business achieved success very quickly and we were able to pick up some wonderful clients. So when Helen said she wanted to leave after just seven months I was shocked.
“I actually couldn’t believe it at first but after a few moments I could see she was serious. It was painful at the time but I had to accept that she had an offer to pursue something which fulfilled her life’s ambition. But it turned out our ambitions were not aligned.
Teddy added that Helen’s decision to leave the business didn’t rock her own belief and commitment to the company – or her determination to make it a success.
“We had backing and some wonderful clients so I always knew we had a great business. But running a company is a roller coaster ride and it’s shocking how much one’s emotions can vary. Tiny triumphs make you feel euphoric while the smallest setbacks can be crushing.
“So when Helen left there was a feeling of, ‘Oh my God! What does this mean for me? It was a very unsettling time.
“It’s important to be honest with oneself in business and admit your own strengths and weaknesses. I knew my strengths but I was also aware that there were areas of running a business which were not my forte. So I was clear that it would not be something I could do on my own and decided that I would seek to bring in a new partner.”
Teddy began seeking recommendations and was eventually introduced to Melanie Simpson. The pair hit it off and Melanie became a partner in George Jacobsen in January of this year.
Teddy says, “We soon discovered that our skills complement one another’s perfectly. I come from a HR background while Mel has a great deal of experience of providing complex outsourcing solutions on a very large scale for blue chip companies both in the UK and throughout Europe.
“Not only do we get along, which is important, but we also have a similar ambition for the company. We both have exacting standards and have very high personal goals. It’s absolutely essential to have a business partner you can trust and I know I can do that with Mel. We’re both passionate about moving the company forward and building the business so it’s a very exciting time.”
More information about Teddy and Melanie’s company can be found at www.GeorgeJacobsen.com
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