Admit it, how many times have you and your best friend dreamed of starting a business together (especially after a glass of wine)? Beth Kneebone and Patti Barrett talked about it for years, but they could never come up with the right idea — until now. The two friends and neighbors from Chatham, New Jersey, recently launched the Pickup Line, a new daily newsletter that goes out just before 3 p.m. to catch moms up on the news of the day while they wait in line to pick up their kids from school. Here, they talk about the ups and downs of going into business with your best friend — and why they fired their husbands.
What made you want to start a business together?
Beth: I have two kids and Patti has four. We both had careers before becoming full-time moms, and we missed the work life even though we were happy with our choices. We bounced around a lot of ideas before we started the Pickup Line.
Patti: This one just felt right because it grew out of our own life experience of waiting for our kids and wanting a quick way to catch up with what had happened that day. Beth worked in marketing and I was a broadcast journalist, so we both brought different skills to the project. We spent time to really plot it out first, though, and drew up a partnership agreement.
Even best friends don’t always agree. How do you handle that?
Patti: It comes down to finding the balance between keeping a friendship and keeping a business. We challenge each other but we know our own limitations and areas of expertise. If we disagree it’s not about ego, it’s because we both want to get it right.
Beth: We have strong personalities and we both like to be in charge, but we’ve never gotten into a fight. It’s interesting to see someone you know from the mommy side put her business hat on. Patti has made me calmer. She’s helped me learn that you can go out to lunch and it will still get done.
Patti: And I had no idea Beth was such a great self-taught techie!
What’s the biggest benefit?
Patti: The built-in everyday laughter! The work doesn’t feel like work. It’s much easier to trust a friend with decisions than it is to trust a coworker who you only know in the work capacity.
Beth: We cover for each other. Last week, a pipe in my house burst just as we were about to publish and Patti had to take over. We even had our husbands serve as our first editors, but we fired them. They never caught typos! Now we have a real proofreader.
Any advice for Girlfriends thinking of going into business together?
Beth: It’s important that you share the same values. We both put our family first. It’s easy when you start a business to be consumed by it, but it’s just as important to pick our girls up from lacrosse.
What has surprised you?
Patti: It is more difficult juggling kids and the Pickup Line than I anticipated! The newsletter is our newest “baby” and needs attention and love, but the four humans (and husband) who rely on me still have to come first. The challenge has been creating a schedule that allows us to continue to do the things we need to do (grocery shop, laundry) and the things we love to do (work out, spend time with friends). Once, we had to publish from the pumpkin patch we’d taken our kids to. It’s just a new form of juggling.
Everyone needs a girlfriend!
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