Starting a business with your best friend can be dangerous, or so everybody says. But it can also be the most satisfying and enriching experience in the world. After all, who can you work with better than your best friend?
It’s been four years since best friends Kieran and Sabine started Seuss Consulting. (You might remember the thank-you party they threw last year.) At Seuss, we believe in the importance of showing our gratitude, and one thing we’re all really grateful for is the special edge this partnership (and friendship) gives Seuss Consulting and Seuss Recruitment. In the end, who could understand partnership – whether that’s with clients or helping pharma and biotech clients form partnerships – better?
But that doesn’t mean working with your best friend (and especially starting a business together) doesn’t come with its pitfalls. Sabine and Kieran agreed to dish the dirt on the ins and outs of running a business with your best friend.
Why did you want to work with each other?
Sabine Hutchison: I wanted a career change, and I was thinking about going out on my own to do consulting, but I realized I didn’t want to do it totally alone. I wanted a partner. Kieran and I had worked together in the past; we’d already been through some ups and downs together, and we felt we could handle the ups and downs of starting a company. I trusted Kieran – I knew she would keep my best interest at heart. Plus, we have so much fun together, which makes work better, and helps us get through tough times and move our business forward from positive place.
Kieran Canisius: I was convinced that we would be successful working together. We’d already faced “worst-case scenarios” and gotten through them before. I knew her well enough to know what upsets her and what makes her happy, and how to prevent our relationship from breaking down through business stresses. In turn, Sabine knows both my quirks and my stamina, how to deal with them both in different situations, and I know for sure that she will always make decisions that are as good for me as they are for her. We are a true team.
What’s the best part about working together?
SH: Complete trust and laughter.
KC: Yes, definitely the laughter, and the energy it gives me. We’re happier when working together, and the job is exponentially less fun without Sabine.
SH: We really complement each other, how we approach business is similar. We do, however, challenge each other – which makes Seuss stronger.
KC: We do disagree sometimes. But we always work it out, and then there are no leftover bad feelings. We just focus on solving problems. Our relationship is super honest and direct, but we also bring a lightness to each other and our clients. When things get complicated, or heavy or boring, we can really lighten each other’s loads.
What are the challenges of working together?
KC: Our sense of mutual dedication is so strong that, if there are problems or we disappoint each other, we see it as a worst-case scenario. That can be especially intense. We never want to disappoint each other. But that can be a good thing, too: we’re extra motivated because we don’t want to let each other down.
SH: I completely agree.
KC: I’d say this most painful part of working with my best friend, this fear of disappointing each other, is actually also is the secret to our success.
SH: We’ve been through some rough times, both separately and as colleagues, and we’ve helped each other get through them. So we know we can count on each other, whatever comes our way.
KC: So, yes, there are definitely challenges to working together – but not downsides. I have zero regrets about going into business together, and I feel confident that we’ll continue to have success as a team.
How does your unique partnership benefit clients?
SH: Because we’re so different from each other, we feed each other’s creative energy and come up with ideas neither of us would on our own.
KC: Our mutual trust – trust that we will pull off whatever challenge we have to face together – assures clients that we will succeed on their behalf. We have a different approach from other consultants I’ve worked with, because we have each other and our team to lean on. Failure is not a possibility when the two of us put our heads together.
What has been the biggest highlight of the past four years?
SH: I’d say how building our company has impacted the lives of our employees, giving people opportunities to grow and advance their careers, encouraging exploration and offering a safe place to grow in new directions.
KC: The three-year anniversary party was a real highlight for me. It was a milestone. We’d had a financially stable year, and this year has been even bigger. Our second year in business was tough, so it was even more special that we celebrated our third year with a fun party thanking our supporters. Another highlight was when we went bowling with both our current employees and ex-employees last spring. I’m really proud of the close relationships we maintain with our (ex-)employees. When one of our consultants, Pauline, when to Africa to do development work, the first comments on her first post about her experience in Zambia were from Seuss people, past and present from all over the world. It makes me so proud that our company is a source of inspiration and support, a warm place to grow.
SH: We have another cool highlight coming up: we’re planning a fun trip for all our employees at the end of November. We’re keeping the destination secret for now, but you can bet we’ll give you a peek on the blog then!
To have a fun conversation with Kieran or Sabine about how Seuss Consulting supports pharma, biotech and CRO businesses, call them for a chat at + 31 (0)20 290 0016, or email them questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.