Tips on how to build a strong business with two CEO’s

Having two CEO’s in a business can add extra firepower, ideas and expertise to a business, but it can also be tough. We spoke to Sheree Lily Giles and Emma Knieriem, founders of Aussie swim and resort brand Lil & Emm, about how to create a successful business with two leaders at the helm.

The powerful duo met at design school and have worked to create a worldwide brand, showcasing their designs at New York Fashion Week, and Miami Swim Week in 2017 and 2018. If anyone knows how to work together, it’s these two clever women. Check out their top tips for how to run a successful business with a friend.

1. Utilise
each other
s strengths and weaknesses, and build on them with
open communication

We have
separate roles within the business that play to our strengths, and complement
each other’s weaknesses:

  • Sheree is very creative and has a great eye for
    design, branding and the ‘look’
    of Lil & Emm.
  • Emma plays more of a technical role in the design
    process, and transforms designs into the actual product.

We communicate
through weekly meetings, set key dates and track progress during those

2. Set clear
business goals to help make expedient decisions, and be patient with each other

Lil & Emm
have goals set by both of us, and there are countless instances when there just
isn’t time to
consult with each other.

We can make
individual choices confidently, as long as it clearly aligns with the business
goals we’ve set.

We both have
busy schedules, and have learned that making time for each other’s input is
critical. This can mean scheduling calls early in the morning, or late at

3. Trusting
and respecting each other is crucial

Just like any
relationship, we are different people and will always have different views and
opinions, but it’s important to know when to just go with an idea.

Learning when to trust each others decisions,
and when to challenge them, is vital in business and friendship.

Speaking up
when we think our business partner could do something differently is tricky,
but they are discussions we have to have every so often. Sometimes this means
crossing over into each other’s set roles, so we have to tread gently and be
respectful. Thankfully though, we both have the same end goal, and we need to
keep this in mind when having difficult conversations.

Maintaining a best friendship while running a business together

Lots of
people ask us how we maintain our friendship while working together. We’re not only
CEO’s, but we
started this whole journey as best friends, and we intend to keep it that way!

Were always
learning the importance of keeping work and play separate, and to make time to
hang out as friends, not only business partners.

We both understand the pressures of each other’s busy lives, so we make sure we have ‘friend time,’ usually spent getting mani pedis! We’re really proud of the business we’ve created together, and the perks of having two CEO’s definitely outweigh the challenges.

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