How to choose a business partner: The Pomegranite model

Today, Pomegranite celebrates making it through its first year. And what a year it’s been. Sarah and I have travelled an incredible road together and though there were blisters (and injured ankles), we are now getting into our stride, getting fitter and running faster. This journey did not begin 365 days ago but a long, long time before that and I’m going to impart the wisdom we have learned about choosing a business partner.

1. Share some common ground.

Sarah and I were at Rhodes University together all the way up to honours. We weren’t particularly close friends but good enough that when the end of the year came along and I had no idea what to do with my life, I accepted Sarah’s invitation to join her and another classmate, Harry Davies (more about him later) on a trip to Ireland to find their fortunes.

2. Have similar dreams.

Find our fortunes we did not. It was early 2008, the recession had just hit Ireland in a BIG way and the only work we could get was going door to door getting people to sign up to monthly charity donations for deaf kids in India. It was a pretty devastating turn of events, going from becoming accomplished academics to not being able to fill in a form on someone’s doorstep because it was snowing and you were so cold you couldn’t feel your fingers. But it was character building and fantastic life experience.

We actually ended up fantasising together about getting a job, you know indoors. With a desk perhaps and maybe even a phone!?

Sarah and I in Ireland before I’d learnt how to not look creepy in photos.

3. Be able to have a laugh together

Despite our day jobs, we had an absolute blast during those few months. We drank Guinness, we danced, we went on adventures, we had philosophical discussions and we made roast chicken. The third memeber in our merry trio, Harry Davies, started Harare News, which also celebrated its one year anniversary yesterday.

Harry, Sarah and me in Ireland. He called us his wenches and we loved him for it although we were the ones getting free beer, not him.

4. Have common interests

Patriotic partying in Ireland.
Going surfing with our friend, Tracy. Read more about these escapades here.

5. Like your partner enough to want to hang out even after work hours.

Up the Creek music festival 2013

6. Trust your partner enough to take risks together.

Sitting on the edge of a cliff on the Aran Islands. Can you tell who’s more comfortable?

7. Choose someone you respect.

This, above all. If you respect each other,  you can have those difficult conversations that are a part of running a business together. I’ve had some practice at this.

2008 – Me to a very ill Sarah in Ireland while drying her hair: “I don’t want you to panic, but I think your hair is stuck in the hairdryer. I’m just going to fetch the scissors…”

2013 – Me to Sarah on the eve of showing the client our first ever website: “I don’t want you to panic, but I think I just deleted the website and I don’t know how to get it back…”

Look at us out now. A job indoors. With a desk and everything! And a great partnership.

Happy Birthday, Pomegranite.

Photo by friend and client, Kate Davies.

Victory dances: Sometimes they’re just necessary

You know that feeling when things have been really tough – so tough that dropping your pen lid into your tea is actually just too much to deal with – for a really long time, and then suddenly everything starts falling into place? It’s happening to me. And I’m having a bit of a moment.

Pomegranite is doing SO well, you guys. Truth: if you had told me, a year ago, when we started our own business just how hard it would be, and how many stressful months there would be financially, I probably wouldn’t have done it. We don’t often talk about the tough times on this blog – mostly because, even when it’s rough, we still love what we do and wouldn’t swap it for anything. But it hasn’t been all champagne and sunshine.

Today Liz showed me our bank balance, and, well… I cried. Ok – I teared up. It all seems too good to be true. But we did the calculations for the coming months, and we’re still looking so strong. And it’s all come full circle exactly a year since we started Pomegranite on 1 July 2013.

It’s not just that. So much is going right these days.

I spent a week in Joburg for work (and a mom-hug) last week, which was really great. But as I landed in Cape Town, I felt for the first time that I was certain that this is where I want to be now. I opened my blinds the next morning and looked at the sun hitting the mountain and I laughed. Because it feels a bit ridiculous that that is my view. It’s so bloody “Cape Town”. And I freaking love it.

I’ve been struggling with a messed up ankle for almost four years now. I am SO done with xrays and surgeries and crutches and physio. I had given up trying to run, even though I had been given the green light by the physio. It was just too sore. But last night, as I was walking on the treadmill, I decided to run – just for five minutes. Those five minutes came and went… and I just kept going. And before I knew it I had run 5km and I had to force myself to stop. The even better news is that I can actually still walk today. HEY?? I can’t quite believe it.

There have been some difficult conversations I’ve needed to have lately. And they’ve been had. Or at least scheduled. I’m leaving a lot of stuff behind, and it feels good to travel light for a change.

The past year has been the most difficult year of my life – by a long shot. But I finally feel like I’m not only reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, but that sunshine is on my shoulders already. And, as John Denver promised, it makes me happy.

On the eve of my 29th birthday, this all bodes well (no really – it’s tomorrow. Don’t forget.). 28 was all about the spade work. The rough stuff.

And now I’m ready for the next chapter. Champagne?

The one where Pomegranite meets Saul from Homeland (yes, really)

Liz and I, for the most part, spent the long weekend working on two websites that needed to be launched on Monday. With deadlines met and very happy clients, we decided to leave work early on Tuesday afternoon for a walk around Lion’s Head for this month’s inspiration day.

It was a beautiful winter’s day in Cape Town – all blue skies and warm sunshine. After a brief chat about how work is going (summary: things are looking pretty exciting for Pomegranite right now), we broke into a gentle run on the contour path.

Not having been able to run for ages after two ankle surgeries and a whole lot of rehab, I was torn between the worry that I would turn my ankle on the rocky path, and utter exhilaration at being able to move at speed with the wind in my hair. I felt liberated, powerful, and downright graceful as I darted along the path.

“You look like a donkey newly escaped from a medical testing centre,” Liz observed.

As I said – graceful.

We made our way around the mountain, stopping to admire the view – and Instagram the sh*t out of it (obviously).

As we reached the wider road on the way down, we broke into a run again – this time not so gentle. Hurtling down the slope, we passed a group of people laughing as they sauntered upwards. I spun around to give Liz an “OMG-that’s-Marc-Lottering” look. Yip, full-on SA celeb spotted on Lion’s Head. Exciting times.

Little did we know what was in store for us.

We had reached the bottom, flushed with the exhilaration of the run and Marc-spotting, when I noticed an old couple just ahead of us.

Me: That guy looks exactly like Saul from Homeland.

Liz: It totally is!

Me: No, can’t be…

Liz: It is. It’s him! It’s totally him!

Being my father’s daughter (he would happily introduce himself to the queen – I’m not even joking), I was all for saying hello. Liz, it seemed, was not, which I gathered as she panic-ran to a safe distance.

Thus followed this (not at all embarrassing) exchange.

Me: Um, excuse me… Are you from Homeland?

Saul: Why yes, yes I am.

Me: (Struggling to make words) Um… wow! Um… wow! Um… welcome to South Africa!

(Liz in hysterics looking on)

Saul: (Amused smile) Thanks. Have a great day.

That’s right. The CIA told me to have a great day.

How was your Tuesday?

Question: How on earth are we going to top that for July’s inspiration day? If any of you chat to Ryan Gosling in the next couple of weeks, please let him know we’ll be waiting.

IMG_20140617_231628 IMG_20140617_231751 IMG_20140617_232249 IMG_20140617_232020 IMG_20140617_231354 2014-06-17 23.23.50

Sorry, no pics of Saul – I wasn’t THAT brave.

The most powerful marketing tool

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a seminar on one of the world’s most powerful marketing tool.

Is it the hashtag?

Is it blogger relations?

No.

It’s word of mouth.

Being spoken of highly is the single most valuable marketing tool there is. We can vouch for it – Pomegranite has grown leaps and bounds through recommendations.

Other than always, always delivering a top product with exceptional service, there’s no direct way a business can create these positive conversations. That’s why they’re so valuable – they’re spontaneous and sincere. What brands can do, however, is make the most of the good relationships they have with customers and clients.

For us, testimonials are an important way to show that our clients trust us and are happy that they picked us to work with. They’re so important that we have them scrolling on our homepage and they’re displayed on their own page.

There are a variety of ways that a brand can squeeze every drop from a juicy, happy customer on social media. Reviews, testimonials, ratings, interactive content, forums, discussions and comments are all ways of boosting your brand in conversation which is a huge marketing asset. If it’s positive.

Our view? Build from the foundations. Always deliver and be a pleasure to work with.

Check out these amazing stats about word of mouth. They show why social media software company, Lithium, is expected to acquire online influence measurement company Klout for at least $100 million.

lithium wom marketing infographic

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