The truth about working with siblings
I thought I would share some first-hand experience on what it is REALLY like working with a sibling, or in our case an identical twin.
Cranes Cider, was founded in 2012 by my twin brother Dan and I, launching our range of natural fruit ciders first, followed by Cranes Cranberry & Blood Orange Liqueur, Cranes Cranberry Gin and most recently our Premium Apple Cider and Low Alcohol Cider. We have been fortunate enough to experience rapid growth, securing listings in major retailers and we are over the moon with how the business has developed, that said, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, I mean we are siblings after all!
When we first started Cranes Drinks we both had fairly generic roles, where we were both involved with everything, from physically crafting the product to sampling at events. However, over time our individual strengths have become more obvious and our roles have become more and more defined. I now focus more on the finances, purchasing and office management, whereas Dan focuses on the operations management, overseeing production and managing our events. Even though there is still some cross over, namely within product development, sales and marketing, we now only consult each other on the big decisions, which is much more efficient. So, my recommendation for any siblings going into business together, would be to clearly define your roles as early as possible.
Mistaken identity or Superpower
One challenge we have, over many siblings working together, is that we are identical twins. This does make it a little more challenging when networking, as people tend to get confused with who they have spoken to. Having to pick-up on conversations that the other has had previously, is something we have just had to roll with. For this reason, we do actively try to keep each other in the loop on all new acquaintances and what was discussed – even if it means sending a quick message. On the other hand, we see being able to be in two places at once as a bit of superpower. Even if you have never met someone before, if they have met your identical twin brother, they will treat you as if they have, enabling you to build more relationships even faster.
Honesty is the best policy.
One key benefit of working with a sibling, is being able to be brutally honest. Where we have grown up together there are no ego battles or office politics between us. We are able to tell each other ‘that’s a terrible idea’ or ‘hurry up’, without offending each other. We are able to communicate openly and honestly, sure sometimes probably a bit too harshly, but as brothers we are able to take it on the chin and move on quickly.
Another benefit to working with siblings, is we tend to be on the same wave length. I am not sure if this is the same for all siblings or if we have that so-called ‘twin vibe’ but on the whole we do tend to have the same opinions and approach to situations, which is really productive when making business decisions. That said, I would advise any siblings going into business to have an impartial Board of Directors, not only to provide critical business insight and experience but also for those times where you do not agree on a key business decision. This is particularly important when the discussion is subjective, for example when we were re-branding in 2017 and we were at a stalemate over one particular visual element. We had to agree to disagree, and solicit the opinions of our Board, with their ample branding experience and go with the majority. We both accept in these situations the board and majority will have the final say.