This article was written by David Ragosa, a co-founder of Kono Pizza U.S.
Some entrepreneurs want to forge the business path on their own, making all of the tough decisions and also getting the spotlight. At Kono Pizza, me and my co-founding partners Carlo Ruggiero and Greg Kinlaw are all working together to launch the U.S. franchise of the European pizza cone concept, Kono Pizza.
The wacky concept that centers on fresh Italian pizza served in a cone is completely unique in the U.S. market. Therefore, when we started franchising, we knew that we would need the expertise of all three partners to make the transition into the U.S. market a success.
Listed below are some of the tips that have helped us develop a solid business partnership without stepping on each other’s toes:
1. Define. Define. Define.
One of the biggest issues with starting a business, especially with people you already know, is defining your new relationship in a business setting. For instance, Carlo and I worked together in another venture and when we transitioned to Kono Pizza, some of our past responsibilities and roles shifted. When starting a new endeavor, it is essential to sit down and define each partner’s role in the business. Having set guidelines diminishes some of the initial frustration and confusion of running a business. This allows for more productivity right out of the gate.
2. Ease into a Partnership
Even when roles are defined, partnerships are not black and white. It’s important to realize that as the business grows, the responsibility of each partner will shift to best accommodate the new landscape. At the beginning stages of business ownership, roles are constantly evolving as you settle in. Remember to be patient and flexible during these times. Continue to create defined limits of each partner’s responsibilities as they shift into place.
3. Feedback Instead of Fighting
One of the great things about my, Carlo and Greg’s relationship is that we all have extremely different personalities. We get along and enjoy each other’s company, but there are some points on which we disagree. Letting a partner know when you have a differing opinion is essential to the success of the business. But keep in mind, how you bring the issue up can make or break your relationship. Yelling and screaming is never the best way to settle a disagreement; instead, give feedback in a non-judgmental and open way. This approach gets the job done without the added tension of an argument.
4. Keep an Open Mind
Carlo is insanely driven and is always coming up with new and innovative ideas to further the Kono Pizza brand, while Greg is focused on which ideas have the best value and how we can implement them within our budget. Although my work style more closely mirrors Carlo’s, we can all learn from the work style of our counterparts to get the best results. That same philosophy is true of any business, every individual can learn from the skills and weaknesses of others. Issues arise when one person thinks that his or her ideas hold more weight than the rest of the group’s.
5. Have Some Fun
I’m lucky to have great co-founding partners who are intelligent, fun and just as excited about the Kono Pizza concept as I am. Pizza in a cone is fun by nature, so as owners we can’t always be stressed out and serious. In any concept, adding a little bit of fun to the business is something that helps the upper level management and translates down to any other people working for the company.