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These Entrepreneurs Share Their Secret to Starting a Business With Your Best Friend

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Brio Solutions is a thriving software consulting firm in Philadelphia, PA. By building applications to increase internal efficiency, Brio Solutions brings cloud-based solutions to life for hundreds of small businesses.

It’s no surprise that Brio Solutions was named one of the Philadelphia 100 4 years in a row—a list of the 100 fastest growing companies in the Greater Philly area.

So how did Brio Solutions transform from a moonlit operation to one of Philly’s fasting-growing companies?

It’s all thanks to one incredible friendship.

An Itch That Just Wouldn’t Go Away

Adam Cohan and David Rose were high school buddies. Both children of entrepreneurs, they found themselves starting businesses together as teens and college students. After college, Rose worked as a software developer at a number of different companies, and Cohan was into marketing. But it wasn’t long before their entrepreneurial itch came back.

Together, they spotted a massive gap in software development. What Rose did for larger companies simply wasn’t available to small- and medium-sized businesses. So, in 2004, they set out to start a business that built websites for other businesses—while they both still held day jobs.

In 2008, they decided to jump in full-time.

Learning from Early Mistakes

The duo “had backgrounds in technology and development, but not necessarily on the business side. We were learning on the fly,” says Cohan. “We made some early hires that didn’t quite match up with our needs. Luckily, we recognized it soon enough and were able to recover.”

They spent their early capital on expensive designers who they didn’t end up using. They weren’t generating any revenue from the design side of the business, but that’s where the cash went. Brio Solutions was a design agency, but soon realized the demand was for a technology shop instead. They decided to change their model, and focus on building custom internal solutions for mid-market companies.

Luckily, Cohan and Rose identified this early on, and could make the right changes without wasting too much money or time. And it was a smart move—it’s what got them to where they are today.

Once Cohan and Rose found a formula that worked, their diligence paid off. With time, their biggest challenge became managing growth… A problem most entrepreneurs would love to have.

Adding Fuel to the Fire

Cohan and Rose concocted ways to keep the company moving forward—fast. Cohan explains, “We looked at our growth last year, we did forward-looking projections, and looking at growth for next year, we saw that funding would allow us to pursue that more aggressively.”

Cohan and Rose had read about Fundera on Business Insider and decided to check it out. They quickly began working with Customer Success Director Mike Schwartz to find the right loan for them. Cohan adds, “The follow-up throughout the whole process was great. When you already are wearing so many hats and juggling so many different things, it’s nice to not have to worry about the loan application.” Brio Solutions got the funding they needed quickly and painlessly.

Thanks to the funding, the duo has the working capital to invest in sales and in engineering talent, while continuing to take on much larger projects.

Their Biggest Advantage? Being Best Friends

Cohan and Rose understand exactly what’s let them grow so much over the years: each other.

Business partnerships can be a big concern. How do you find someone you can work well with? There are tons of articles that warn of the woes to come if you start a business with a friend. But for Cohan and Rose, it’s been the secret to their success. How do they make it work?

Cohan explains, “First off, conflict resolution is huge with any type of partnership. Being in a business partnership is like being in a marriage. You’re going to fight, you don’t always get your way, but you have to figure out a way to decide how these decisions will be resolved so you can keep moving forward. Dave and I have conversations about how we want to try to resolve conflicts. We are candid, we are straightforward, we don’t hold back, and we don’t take things personally. This is how we can maintain a friendship and a strong business partnership.”

Cohan and Rose certainly disagree, but they’re good at working through it. Rose adds, “The biggest advantage is how well we complement each other. We have different strengths and our personalities are so different. We know each other—we can say what our weaknesses are, and how the other makes up for them.”

“We know whatever happens in business isn’t going to affect our friendship. Business is business… Sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t like to do. We also don’t do things if one of us is really opposed to something. We have to come to an agreement to move forward,” Rose says.

Running a business with your best friend sounds like a dream—but it’s obviously no cakewalk. If you’re considering going into business with a friend, here’s Cohan’s final piece of advice:

“Make sure you’re going into business with them because of what they can bring to the business, not because they’re a friend.”

Congrats to Brio Solutions on their funding and growth, and a special thanks to David and Adam for providing insight on running a business with your best friend!

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. She launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014 and has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and her advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, and more. Email: