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Working with Friends - Making it Work

Two Simple Rules for Starting a Business with Friends

by Danielle Walsmith  |  3115 views  |  1 comment  |       Rate this now! 

When Lauren Tarne moved back to Los Angeles last year after five years in Dallas, she was not looking forward to a job search. “I wish I could start my own public relations firm,” she told her best friend from high school, Danielle Walsmith.

That same day, driving in the car with another of her best friends, Danielle had heard almost the same thing. “I wish we could start our own event planning firm,” Limor Gallo had said as they carpooled to work on the LA freeways.

That night, as Danielle recounted the day to her husband, a light bulb went off in her head, and Sweet Talk Public Relations was born.

Now, nine months later, the three best friends are running a successful boutique communications agency specializing in marketing, public relations and special event planning. So, what’s it like working with your best friends?

“In the beginning it was challenging,” says Lauren, who brings to Sweet Talk a wealth of public relations and marketing knowledge. “We had to lay down some ground rules.”

Danielle, whose nonprofit sector experience brings a unique perspective to a variety of clients, concurs. “We don’t always agree, but what makes it work is that we really respect each others strengths.”

And Limor, who has worked on red-carpet events and black-tie galas, adds “Our skills complement each other, so even when we disagree, we’re actually developing a more well-rounded solution for our clients.”

The ground rules they laid out are pretty simple. “We’re sensitive to each others feelings, but we try to be as open and direct as we can,” says Limor. “We really try to put it all out there. And since we know each other so well anyway, we can usually tell when there’s an issue.” Direct communication is the first rule, and the second is laughter.

“Sometimes we laugh so hard our cheeks hurt and we’re crying,” explains Danielle. “Nothing helps us feel better when dealing with the stress of being entrepreneurs than a real belly-laugh. And you just never know what will set us off.”

So what’s next for the three best friends? “We’re just having fun growing our business, doing the best job we can for our clients, and learning a lot. And its fun because we’re doing it together,” says Lauren. “Creating Sweet Talk sure beat looking for a new job.”

About the Author

Danielle Walsmith and her two best friends own Sweet Talk PR, a communications agency specializing in marketing, public relations and event planning.

Read more by Danielle Walsmith

1 comment so far...

  • Danielle,

    I first have to commend you for going into business with your friends. It seems that the three of you did it correctly though and one thing you stated,"“We don’t always agree, but what makes it work is that we really respect each others strengths.” That is really important --evaluate and know each other's strengths. And being honest with each other is key as well. If you are too worried about not hurting each others feelings, that can be bad for the business. You don't have to be mean but honest is good. It is better for your relationship with each other and for your business.
    Even when issues come up, the important thing is to learn from them and allow each other to come up with resolutions so it doesn't occur again.
    And yes, laughter is great as well to keep a company going strong.


    Teresa Morrow
    Key Business Partners

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Teresa Morrow on 24th January 2008