Lolle & Nielsen has only grown to what it is today because the two founders figured out how to mix business and friendship.
It's common knowledge in business circles: You shouldn’t do business with friends. If something goes wrong there is both a business and a friendship at stake.
This is, however, how Lolle & Nielsen was started a decade ago: The student-buddies Andreas Lolle and Steffen Nielsen Österberg teamed up to start an inventing-company together.
10 years later, the ownership is still split 50/50 between the two. And while building a company on the foundation of friendship might involve some challenges, it certainly also comes with benefits.
It's easy to be both friends and business partners, when that new invention is smoothly brought to market and business is booming.
But building a company isn't always smooth sailing. More often than not things don't go quite as planned. And when tough decisions have to be made you can't tiptoe around it because you're afraid to offend your friend and business partner.
For that reason, it's been pivotal for us to have a distance between 'private' and 'professional'.
The code is trust
All the way from the beginning we had a homemade 'owners agreement' which stated our individual responsibilities and what would happen if Lolle & Nielsen ended up in a 'divorce'.
It got further formalized once the company became an ApS. But in reality, the only real contract to a successful business partnership is trust - which is where actual friendship comes in handy.
In the end, no contract can save the company if business partners turn opponents. A contract might state how the company is to be shared - but it will always turn out ugly. In that regard, friendship is a great catalyst to make it work instead of giving up.
A solid base of business and friendship for years to come
Lolle & Nielsen is more than "just" a business relationship. We started out as friends, and today our economy is more intertwined than the ones with our wives.
This makes is crucial to actually talk about challenges, issues and problems instead of being afraid of conflict - more or less like an actual relationship.
As 50/50-partners consensus must be made - and it's reasonable to assume we've had our fair share of "I got sad when you said this"-discussions to reach that consensus.
But the disagreements old friendship might sprout is also ultimately the strength. We know each other much better than most colleagues, and we've found a way to use this to grow the company as well as the friendship - hopefully for many years to come.