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Band of brothers: Why sibling-run firms work

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Sisters are doing it for themselves

But how about the girls” Is oestrogen as volatile in the boardroom as testosterone

Sarah and Louise Meakes are the founders of Sandinmytoes.com, an online swimwear boutique. Are there cat fights” “We are very close and get along really well so it’s calm and peaceful for the most part,” says Sarah. “There’s an understanding between us that can only come from being sisters – communication is much quicker and easier and there’s no tiptoeing around each other as we are not worried about offending each other. We know each other so well it doesn’t matter.”

Louise says the coupling is harmonious: “We previously worked in two companies together, renovated a house together, travelled together and have lived together. I wouldn’t have done any of it without her!”

Louise says they teamed up because of the loneliness of being an entrepreneur. “Being in business with a sister definitely gives you confidence. It is much less lonely and in tough times you have the support of somebody you have known all your life. Even when times are tough and there are disagreements, you know they won’t last long. You’re family; you have to get over it. There is no question of one of us leaving the partnership – our mum would kill us!”

This is a common sentiment among siblings. Being in business with a brother or sister might be fractious and tricky, but much less lonely! As Ben Black puts it: “It’s lonely running a business. The highs you feel, you can’t share because you are worried about the future, and the lows are low – and pretty lonely. So it is fantastic being able to share those experiences with your brother. I remember when we tried to buy a business from Bupa a few years ago. We spent a lot of money on very expensive offices to move the staff into. The deal was pulled at the last minute before signing. We were gutted. I would have absolutely hated to be alone at that moment.”

Jos White fully agrees: “It’s really important to have a partner, especially in your first business. Starting up is a tough thing to do on your own; to have a partner you trust is so valuable. You need someone to bounce ideas off and to celebrate with when things go well. The ultimate partner is a sibling. You understand them and trust them more than anybody.”

So there you go, Ed and David. The brother partnership can work. It can bring out the best in both of you, allowing you to focus on your particular strengths. Best of all, you don’t have to be lonely at the top.  What’s the point of striving to be prime minister if there’s no-one to share the glory with you” Go on lads, be brave and pick up the phone.

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