5 Ways to Make Your Long-Distance Startup Work

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When two co-founders live on different continents, how do they make it work? By Rachel Sales (Editor, Pink Pangea)

When I left New York to live in Tel Aviv, my business partner Jaclyn and I weren’t sure what would become of our business. We’d started Pink Pangea, the community for women who love to travel, while both of us were working at the same company in New York. On the weekends, we had devoted our time to growing the site.

Then, Jaclyn quit her full-time job. Several months later, inspired by her bold move, I did the same. Suddenly, we were in the perfect position to grow Pink Pangea into the community we had always believed it could be. Except that now, instead of being a short subway ride away, we lived thousands of miles apart.

Luckily, since both of us had travel industry experience with partners on the other side of the ocean, we knew we could make this work. Sure, we might not have been able to launch new ideas as soon as we thought of them, but taking a few hours to marinate on new projects often turned out for the better.

Looking to launch your business with someone who lives across the world? Here are five tips for becoming successful long-distance business partners:

1. Communicate

As in any relationship, communication is always key. When you’re long-distance business partners, it’s important not only to brainstorm new projects and discuss your plans, but also to be upfront about anything that’s bothering either of you – fears, insecurities or confusions. These things can bubble up and make it impossible to do your best work.

Now that Jaclyn and I don’t see each other every day, we have to make a point of being open and honest with each other on a regular basis – even if it’s not on the agenda.

2. Be Flexible

Living in different time zones means that we can’t always have meetings exactly when we might want to. When Jaclyn’s waking up, I’m already well into the afternoon. When I’m ready to call it a night, it’s barely evening in New York. Neither of us can entirely give up sleep, so we make an effort to be as flexible as possible. Often, we’ll have early morning meetings for Jaclyn, or late-night meetings for me.

Sometimes this means sacrificing a little bit of our social lives, pushing off dinner until 10 PM or working out in the mornings instead of at night. We realize that setting times to talk won’t always be simple, so we have to be flexible to make it work.

3. Video Chat

Being an entrepreneur can be exciting – and stressful. So, when you’re living far away and only communicating virtually, it’s possible to misread people’s tones, be cavalier, or take certain things way too seriously. That’s where meetings in person often make all the difference.

While we can’t exactly be face-to-face, we can FaceTime, Google Hangout or Skype. We find that seeing each other helps us communicate a lot better and enhances our partnership.

4. Be Sensitive

People always have different things going on in their lives. But when you’re thousands of miles away, you may miss out on local crises that everyone nearby can relate to.

During the summer, there were daily rocket sirens in Tel Aviv – which was something I shared with everyone around me. Jaclyn knew what was going on and was sensitive to what I was experiencing. I also did my best to compartmentalise – which is always vital to getting work done.

5. Take Advantage of Your Locations

Because Pink Pangea is an international travel community, we’re pretty lucky to span so many more time zones than we would if we both lived in New York. For communicating with many of our writers and partners, and for making sure our content reaches more of the world, these extra hours are crucial to me.

For Jaclyn, living in New York is also critical. So many partners and potential partners are based in New York. So, all she needs to do is hop on the subway and she’s exactly where she needs to be.

While a long-distance relationship with your business partner definitely comes with challenges, it can also be a blessing. As an entrepreneur, sometimes all you really need to do is concentrate and get to work. And when you’re on different time zones and in different countries, you often have no excuse not to!

What are your top tips for a healthy co-founder relationship?

Photo credit: Neirfy via Shutterstock


About the guest blogger: Rachel Sales is the co-founder and editor of Pink Pangea, the community for women who love to travel. Before launching Pink Pangea, Rachel lived in New York and worked in tourism.  Rachel holds a B.A. in English literature and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. Rachel currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel with her husband, Ben.