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The Property Brothers Offer Free Advice On Building a Strong Business -- and a Strong Partnership

Drew and Jonathan Scott talked to two Entrepreneur readers (and husband-and-wife cofounders) about strengthening their working relationship.
The Property Brothers Offer Free Advice On Building a Strong Business -- and a Strong Partnership
Image credit: Jake Chessum
Magazine Contributor
6 min read

This story appears in the March 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

There’s no way around it: Business is personal -- ­especially when your cofounder is a sibling, a spouse, or a close friend. Dean Praetorius and Kiki Von Glinow know this all too well as the husband-and-wife founders of Brooklyn-­based digital consultancy Toast Media Group. The couple told Entrepreneur that they’re refining how they work together, so we put them on the phone with Jonathan and Drew Scott to talk about partnership best practices, mutual respect, and learning to let go. 

 

Kiki: So nice to meet you guys. We always jump at the chance to get free advice, so this is great. Diving in: How do you give each other feedback that’s constructive and respectful? 

Drew: We call it a no-B.S. policy. Just get it out. Don’t let pent-up frustration lead to negativity that can damage your team. Try to keep emotion out of it -- these are business decisions. 

Jonathan: It’s easy for Drew because he has no emotions that we’re aware of. We call him the robot. 

Kiki: That’s Dean, too! But within that no-B.S. policy, what’s the structure? Is it just full transparency all the time? 

Drew: Never be aggressive with communication. I can say anything to Jonathan; we’ve always had our own language. But if I’m that direct with anyone else, it comes across as aggressive. I’ve learned that I need to smooth out my communications with other people. 

Kiki: We very much have our own language when it comes to our personal life, so we’re now developing that professional language with each other. 

Jonathan: The more intimately you know someone, the more you can lose respect for their role. It’s important to respect that person the same way you would respect an executive from another company. If you don’t like an idea they have, don’t say, “That’s a dumb effing idea!” Propose a solution instead of a dead end. 

Kiki: Make it constructive rather than dwelling on what’s wrong. 

Jonathan: Right. And remember, there are a million right ways to do things. Drew might do something differently than I would have, but the outcome will be the same -- the job gets done. Don’t second-guess each other, because that can be damaging. 

RELATED: The Property Brothers' Business Empire Depends on One Thing: Their Very Strong Partnership

Dean: We have a lot of overlapping skill sets. How do you determine who should be the lead on a project? 

Drew: We’re the same way. For a while, we just divvied up tasks, but that back and forth can get disorganized, especially for your team. Now if something is more design-based, we let Jonathan lead the charge. So while he’s doing all the designs for Property Brothers, I’ll be focused on production. 

Jonathan: The most important thing is consistency for the third parties you’re dealing with. However, make sure you give yourselves the space to have new experiences and keep learning. 

Kiki: That’s a good point -- especially in digital marketing, everything is always changing, so we both need to keep evolving. 

Jonathan: You need to be prepared to take calculated risks, fail fast, and fix quickly. 

Drew: And with that in mind, keep each other up to date. We have regular check-ins so we know where a project is. And listen to each other -- just because you’re leading a project doesn’t mean you can’t utilize tips from someone else. That kind of collaboration has helped us grow. 

RELATED: How the Stars of 'Fixer Upper' Transformed a Town in Texas

Kiki: One of our biggest mistakes so far has been treating those touch-bases as second fiddle to our client and team interactions. 

Drew: My wife and I used to struggle with this because we work together -- she’s a creative director at Scott Brothers Global. Those check-ins would end up being at the end of the day, just when we should be shutting down from work. I have the bad habit of checking emails before I go to bed. But you’ve got to make yourself put it down and focus on what matters, which for us is family. Deal with it in the morning. 

Jonathan: We create a lot of our own chaos, right? There are so many calls and emails. But a lot of the buzzing we do on a day-to-day basis, I bet 40 percent isn’t accomplishing anything. Focus on the stuff that moves the needle.

Kiki: You’re totally right. 

Dean: Especially with clients. 

Jonathan: You have to get your clients to respect your time. If you tell them you’re available day and night, guess what? They’ll call you day and night. Use the illusion of choice. Tell them you’re available Tuesday at 4 or Wednesday at 3. They’ll think, Wow, this is a busy company! 

Dean: So Kiki and I are a partnership right now, but we’re growing. How do you take that leap? 

Drew: Jonathan and I are particular about how things are done. To expand to a place where we’re not the ones pitching and we’re not the ones in meetings all the time, that was tough. But you have to give other people that chance. When we first started bringing on employees, I micromanaged, and it took me a long time to realize how annoying that was. 

RELATED: How These Co-Founders Divide Their Powers and Get Things Done

Jonathan: Get out of your employees’ way, but let them know you’re there. I always say, before you spend 10 hours trying to figure something out, just text me, email me, ask me. Maybe I can save you six of those 10 hours. 

Dean: We often wonder, should we tell clients that we’re married? It’s a funny point to make sometimes. 

Drew: My wife and I have talked about that. In a meeting, do I introduce her as my wife or as our creative director? But it’s an amazing thing to prove how well you work together. You have a professional aesthetic and you’ve worked with impressive brands. Paired with your synergy as business partners and as a married couple? Clients will love that. 

Jonathan: I’m a strong believer in being proud of your dynamic. Growing a brand together is a great thing, and people will respect that.

 

Listen to the unedited version of this conversation with the Property Brothers on this episode of Problem Solvers

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