Business for two is better!

Trust is gained from him, I know him from the cradle. Born into a family of ten children, Mourad Benamer and his older brother, Yahia, have turned their childhood games into successful partnerships. First in 1999 with Nouvelle Fraîcheur, a sandwich distribution network on campuses. Then, in 2006, by launching their first sushi restaurant, Eat Sushi, in Paris. Today, the brothers run a chain of about thirty restaurants with a turnover of 28 million euros.

The visionary and the strategist. Would we do better together? According to INSEE, in 2010, a third of entrepreneurs set up their box as a duo: half with their spouse or another family member, the other half with a partner. “Working in pairs is a trend we see especially among young graduates, who are used to setting up projects together,” says Laurence Piganeau, head of the Agency’s center of expertise for business creation. “For 83% of entrepreneurs, the first advantage of an association is the complementarity of skills”, analyzes Benoît Galy, author of “Bien s’associater pour mieux entrepreneur” (Leduc.s Editions). Thus, legendary duos often consist of a visionary and a strategist. Such as those of Paul Dubrule and Gérard Pélisson, the founders of the Accor group. “Dubrule had observed the concept of Holiday Inn in the United States and felt that this kind of hotel industry would explode in Europe, Pélisson had the experience of how large companies function,” sums up the executive coach Jean-Philippe Bozek, author of “Happiness to to undertake” (Eyrolles).

Join and last. However, this complementarity is not always obvious to those involved. Thierry Bizot and Emmanuel Chain needed a helping hand to come to the fore within their audiovisual production house, Elephant et Cie. “Emmanuel and I have been friends since high school,” says Thierry Bizot. We started in 1999 without organizing ourselves, in complete confidence. At first, Emmanuel was not there often because he presented the program “Capital”. As he left the antenna, I felt the concern of the housewife seeing her husband come home! I then suggested that we go to a coach so that he could help us divide the work. The one Thierry Bizot jokingly describes as their “marriage counselor” locked them in a conference room for two hours, with instructions to write on Post-it notes what they liked and what scared them off. “When he came back from lunch, he had put some sort of map of our respective tastes on the wall, and our areas of action were naturally taking shape: for Emmanuel the magazine and production, for me the entertainment and negotiation.”

Despite everything, the potential of the association lies dormant, while the day-to-day management is all that remains. Benoît Galy recalls a young founder of an IT services company who eventually felt the association as a burden, but never gave up. His mate’s measured dealings made him tremble with impatience. Instinct and go-getter, he wanted to take risks, recharge his batteries. There were no new challenges!

Unlike Thierry Bizot and Emmanuel Chain who, in order to nurture their partnership, constantly renew themselves, through new projects, but also by setting up subsidiaries. Mourad and Yahia Benamer are working on their third challenge, Eat Sushi Drive. Objective: to become a leader in the sector. Then they don’t rule out selling their box to change the playing field, either as a duo or individually. “The couples are not necessarily meant to grow old together, emphasizes coach Marc Traverson. If there is no relay project, if everyone has evolved differently, the time will have come to step out of line, like these musicians who part to follow their own path after the group’s success.

Affect and business, an explosive mix. And then not all two-person adventures are success stories. Coach Jean-Philippe Bozek thus knows specialists in unhappy unions. “I accompanied an entrepreneur who was afraid to start alone, he says. He believed in the miracle association, and chained the failures, always on the same scenario: delight, disappointment, disagreement. The ingredients for success are rarely met and the chance of success depends in part on the shared link. “The feedback from entrepreneurs in a flock is quite favorable,” notes Benoît Galy.

Thus, three couples of the Cathiard family have created successful businesses: the parents, Florence and Daniel, owners of Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux, their daughter Mathilde, who developed the Caudalie brand with her husband Bertrand Thomas and his sister Alice. who launched herself into the luxury hotel industry with her husband, Jérôme Tourbier. If they don’t all know this success, the couples have the advantage of being able to leave on a flexible basis. “Especially in comparison to compensation, since it falls into the common pot, Benoît analyzes Galy, but also for schedules and obligations related to children. However, difficulties can arise if one takes too much advantage over the other. Between siblings, on the other hand, it is impossible to ignore family history. Mandatory complicity, then, with the risk of resurfacing the jealousy of the past… In short, with the couple as well as with the siblings, when affect comes into play, the association can swing dangerously.

A pact… for a notary. “It is finally less risky to deal with a person who has been known in the professional environment,” says Benoît Galy. But it is necessary to guard against disaster scenarios. Typical example, quoted by Benoît Galy: “Two friends put a few thousand euros in a box and start at 50-50. After a few months, one of them decides to look elsewhere. Impossible, therefore, to force him to return his shares: whether he works or not, he owns half of the company. The parade ? Make everyone’s goals clear from the start to clear up misunderstandings about important questions: how much is a decent salary? Is the priority hiring or pocketing? Is a future acquisition a goal in itself or an opportunity to explore?

Benoît Galy also recommends that some operating principles be laid down in writing in a partnership agreement that can be filed with a notary: salary changes, payment of dividends, automatic redemption clause on the day a partner leaves, option purchase or sale of shares after five or ten years , pre-emption clause in the event of the death of one of the partners. This pact also makes it possible to appoint an arbitrator
in case of disagreement. A handy precaution, because uninterested friendships are rare in business.

Fred and Farid: patrons of the advertising agency Fred & Farid

Over 100 campaigns run together in twenty years. Fred Raillard and Farid Mokart, 42 and 45, continue to surf their professional love at first sight. Farid analyzes, Fred synthesizes. Complicity preserved by rules: “We talk to each other every day, we have the same number of shares, the same titles, we don’t get congratulations without mentioning the other, and we take people out of our lives who would like our distribution!”

Sophie Noucher

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