I wanted to take a moment to write about a couple of events that have happened in the last seven days that have made me pause and think about the incredible loss that the businesses I’ve come across have experienced.

Without going into details and names, the two businesses I’m referring to have a situation which I am incredibly familiar with –

Early-stage product businesses that sell to woman but have a male and a female as Founders, who are also in a relationship.

I’ve spoken very little about what happened behind the scenes of my first company, Trefiel Skincare, for fear of legal and retaliatory action.

I still, at this point, do not feel comfortable sharing what happened on a public domain, which can be reshared and passed on.

In saying that, two situations with very similar internal business structure came up this week that I feel is really important to address with you.

It’s quite literally the worst self-sabotage I’ve ever seen and I recognised it because I’ve done it myself.

Women are raised to be passive, agreeable, likeable people pleasers.

We’re told to “play nice”.

“Be friendly”.

“Share”.

We’re taught that we caused other people’s emotions and we are raised to always take responsibility for another’s feelings (don’t even get me started).

When we go into business, we take these cultural traditions and behaviours with us. And oftentimes, we don’t even feel brave enough to start the business ourselves, so we do it with our partner.

Which is great… until it isn’t.

When the romantic partner you’re with is a dominant male, you almost automatically assume the passive role. This is mostly fine in a romantic partnership – someone always has more power and dominance hierarchies are very normal in all relationships, not just romantic ones.

This is unfortunately where things become unstuck in businesses, particularly when the company you’re starting (and building) is selling to women.

We go into a business with a man that we already assume a passive position with and allow them to make decisions within a business that we, as women and as the closest person to the customer should be in control of.

And the two situations I’m thinking of recently have been absolutely heart-breaking.

  1. Both women in the businesses have wanted to do the right thing.
  2. Both men have tried to control the situation that they have no knowledge about.
  3. Both women have fallen into the passive role.
  4. Both men have assumed control because of the woman’s passivity.
  5. Both women have allowed it – the situation and the men’s control over the business – to affect the future of the business.

And both businesses have been totally fucked as a consequence.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in Trefiel was allowing a man who was NOT our target customer – nor anywhere near close to it – drive the company’s decision-making and sales process.

One of the biggest lessons I took from that situation – having to walk away from a company that had had over half a million dollars of sales in a very short amount of time – was to promise myself that would never fucking happen again.

And it kills me when I see women making this mistake.

  • We think that there must be something they know that we don’t.
  • We think that they are probably right even though we know deep down they’re not.
  • We allow them to dictate that which they don’t understand nor have any right to decide on.

Co-Founder DOES NOT equal capable CEO.

Business partner DOES NOT equal capable CEO.

Husband/partner/boyfriend DOES NOT equal capable CEO.

And I say this from the most loving place possible because I know there are men in my audience –

  • I love men.
  • I have great relationships with many men.
  • Some of my best friends are men.

But my real anger and frustration I feel right now is with WOMEN.

We allow the men in our businesses to make executive decisions about things that they should not and that we know WE should be making, but don’t.

We stand on the sidelines.

We allow the mistakes to happen.

The two events that have happened this week have been by far the worst case of self-sabotage I have ever seen by partner-shared businesses and I am so shocked at what has happened, I needed to take some time to write this down.

Please…

If you are in business with your romantic partner AND you sell to women, define. fucking. boundaries. that. let. you. lead. and. sell.

For the good of the business.

For the good of the partnership.

And most of all, for yourself.

There is nothing worse than being in a situation that you knew was going to happen and that you didn’t have the guts to hold the line on.

As a woman, I can think of nothing worse.

As a business owner, I can think of nothing more detrimental to the future of your business.

I know… it’s scary. Trust me, I’ve been there.

But if I could go back and do it all again, I would go down guns-blazing on some of the stupidest decisions I allowed to happen purely because I assumed my partner/business partner knew better than me and because I was too gutless to hold the line on what I really wanted.

Guess what? His decision making cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And so will your business partner, if you don’t manage the situation properly.

End rant.