There seems to be a growing trend of BFF power couples starting and running badass companies together. From podcasts to retreat centers, magazines to design studios, the BFF power couple is so hot right now, and there is something incredibly beautiful about that. But no beauty comes without its challenges.
Spirit Guides Magazine was founded over happy hour, after long talks about modern spirituality and healing and in the midst of romantic break ups and grieving. Arizona Bell, my business partner, and I went to high school together, worked at an ice cream shop together and watched each other travel the world, encountering challenges, heartbreak, and victories along the way.
We lost touch in our teens as you naturally do in the midst of travel and major life changes. It wasn't until we found ourselves both back in our home town, licking our wounds and planning our respective escapes that we reconnected and began seriously discussing starting a business together. The years behind us laid the foundation on which we would build our futures.
Despite our bright hopes, starting a business with a friend was something I'd always heard not to do. "Don't go into business with friends or family," is something I'd heard all my life. But the truth is, there are many hurdles and challenges that come with starting a business with anyone. A wise man once told me, "Where there are people, there is conflict."
You're never going to have the perfect business relationship with anyone; as time progresses and things continue to grow, hard conversations are going to have to be had no matter who you're partnered up with. And if you started a company with someone you even relatively like, you're more than likely going to become friends through the process anyway.
Sure, there is a lot on the line if the relationship goes sour, but on the other side of the coin is working with someone you love and building something together that can bring great change to the world.
After Spirit Guides Magazine was born, it wasn't until things really got going and I was living in an RV outside of Arizona's house in Sedona when our friendship truly started to reach a deeper level. And what a beautiful time that was, with long nights, tarot magic and dance parties in what we affectionately referred to as "The Witch Wagon."
Now that we are over two years into starting and running a thriving company together, while have been consistently growing our friendship, there have been many rough waters we've had to navigate—both as friends and as business partners.
Regardless of these challenges, many incredible, profitable, helpful and positive ideas have come from our work with Spirit Guides Magazine. Our weekly radio show has been changing lives from the beginning; the messages we get from listeners in our community are a testament to the guests we invite on as well as the open and honest relationship we have with one another. We founded this platform on the idea of a modern, no frills approach to spirituality, and as times continue changing it has become increasingly obvious that this is exactly what people want. When you create something from the heart with good intentions, you will attract the people who are looking for your brand of spice.
Additionally, we've created a monthly membership community called The Cosmic Collective where we invite practitioners to host exclusive live sessions for our members. These sessions can include mediumship readings, intuition development, learning tarot, breathwork for ancestral healing, and everything in between! This worldwide community was a longtime idea that we pulled together and launched in just two month's time. When we work together on a shared dream, things fall into place in truly magical ways. It's like putting a request into the universe and having it fulfilled almost immediately. The synergy when we are working together on something is palpable.
However, the lines between friendship and coworkers can still get blurry. But if you can learn anything from our experience, it's that the precious combination of the two relationships can form a union that is completely unique to any other.
If you're looking to start a company with your BFF, take some advice from us with these three tips:
1. Form Strong Boundaries: "Boundaries" is a buzzword you hear so much these days. Either we all grew up as sponges, absorbing everyone else's shit, or we have just forgotten how to differentiate between what is ours and what is other people's. Regardless, forming strong boundaries in any relationship is incredibly beneficial. Draw a firm line between friendship when you're working, and business when you're playing. Bringing in the friendship during a serious business meeting will create unnecessary emotional baggage and make it more difficult to make decisions together. And conversely, only talking about work when it's time to play and relax can pigeonhole your relationship and easily make you forget what it was you loved about each other to begin with. Balance is key, and boundaries are how you achieve that balance.
2. Practice Clear Communication: This one can be hard when difficult conversations, that are usually zero fun, need to happen. Combining the love of a friendship with the logistics of a business relationship can help you practice clear and compassionate communication. If you can't talk about things as they come up, you'll never be able to move forward. And just like in any relationship, after you talk it out you will feel so much lighter and more connected. Put time on the calendar to talk if necessary but make it a priority.
3. Don't Take Things Personally: By far the hardest piece of advice we've had to learn is to not take things personally. Don Miguel Ruiz stated this as one of the agreements in his best-selling book, The Four Agreements, and it is super relevant in a friend/business relationship as well. When you go out together, attend family holidays and celebrate losses or milestones as friends, it can be hard to separate those moments from making business decisions and having inevitable disagreements. But when you form strong boundaries and practice clear communication, not taking things personally will feel like a logical next step in the evolution of the relationship. Ain't nobody got time to be butt-hurt by a disagreement. Let that shit go!
There is nothing more soul satisfying than spending all day together (virtually or physically) creating something that helps people all over the world with someone you love and grew up with. Starting and running a company with your BFF will force you to grow in ways you otherwise wouldn't. There will be uncomfortable moments and times of loss or failure, but there will also be shared victories and huge milestones. Just like anything else, the more honest you are with yourself and each other and the more committed you are to your shared goal, the easier it will be to successfully run a company with your BFF.
"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.