Letter from John: Having Good Partners

Having a baby? Starting a business? It helps to have a good partner in the mix.

Four years into this business of Floricane -- and almost five since Thea was born -- I can make an easy argument that Nikole has played seriously large role in my successes as a businessperson and a parent.As a partner and as a wife, she's been solidly invested from the start.

Like the life of a newborn, the first year of business at Floricane was a heady mixture of having no clue, soaking it all in and constantly waiting for the next meal. Nikole thought and celebrated and worried through all of 2009 with me.

There were no terrible twos -- at Floricane, anyway. The second year of business was a lot of fun. The toddler stage of the business was busy, and growing, and good. Nikole celebrated every success we hit in 2010.

Year three was bumpy -- more growth, along with a handful of mistakes and more than a bit of unwarranted cockiness. All of which conspired to make this fourth year of consulting challenging beyond belief. Having a partner at home to help hold things together, and push me at the right moments, hasn't made the work easier, but there's something reassuring about having someone alongside me in the boat.

If Nikole has been at my side through the thick and thin of Floricane's emerging adolescence, I've also been fortunate to be surrounded by a great community of coworkers and supporters.

Bill Martin (of Valentine Richmond History Center fame) and I had drinks earlier this summer to discuss the challenges of these entrepreneurial preschool years. He suggested that I didn't know enough to do anything different in the first year, was too busy to do anything different the second year, and too stubborn to change course during the third year. He also advised me not to wait until year five to adjust course.

And so 2012 was the year I finally stopped screaming, "I can do it by myself!" (see Playground Perspective, below), and started allowing the excellence of others to really shine. (Admittedly, not until I hit a wall.)

Leap forward sixty days, and Floricane faces its 4th birthday (and enters its fifth year) with a new home, a solid team of star players and a steady pipeline of fun, meaningful work. We're busier than ever, and optimistic about the future. Did I mention fun?

As Floricane moves into its fifth year, I find myself saying "Thank you" to a lot of people. Friends, family, clients, business partners, community supporters -- there's been no end to the steady stream of caring, supportive people who have helped us thrive. My commitment for year five is simple: Give Nikole more successes to celebrate, and help the team turn Floricane into the business we all want it to be.

Happy anniversary, Nikole and Thea. Happy anniversary, Sarah and Tina and Debra and Caroline. And thank you, friend, for being a part of this fun, fantastic, stress-inducing journey!