Partnerships That Work

One of my favorite TV shows is Shark Tank. Entrepreneurial guests are not only looking for money, but they are looking for partnerships with one or more of the Sharks. Just imagine having the likes of Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Lori Greiner, Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavec, or Mr. Wonderful — Kevin O’Leary — as a business partner. An impressive success story is when Lori invested $200,000 for 20 percent in a company called Scrub Daddy. It was doing just over $1 million in sales. In the three years since her involvement, revenues have been over $75 million!

Chances are pretty good that nobody reading this article has been the lucky recipient of a Shark’s money and help, so it’s safe to say that the more traditional partner relationships still prevail in this world. The old adage “two brains are better than one” is true. Most importantly, partners must respect and genuinely like each other. They must have unique capabilities and competencies that complement each other. And they must be able to communicate and share with each other.
You can basically compare a successful partnership to a successful marriage. Take a look at this list of what couples can do to maintain a successful marriage. In lieu of couples, insert “business partners,” and see that there is not a big difference in what it takes to have a healthy partnership.

Successful couples are successful business
partners when they do the following:

Enjoy each other.
Enjoy working together.

Fight skillfully.
Disagree with understanding and respect.

Seek and offer forgiveness.
Don’t allow disagreements to fester.

Are in for the long haul.
Agree that the relationship will be long-term.

Are positive about each other.
Are supportive and respectful of each other.

Learn and grow together.
Always look for ways to make their partnership better.

Never stop dating.
Never stop communicating.

Bring each other joy.
Share and celebrate joy and success with each other.

Adhere to the 60/40 rule.
Always contribute their respective fair share to the business.

Have shared values.
Operate by the same value system.

Since our audience is primarily women, let’s focus on women in partnerships. First, I’ll go back to a Shark Tank deal that Kevin O’Leary invested in. It was a mother-daughter business called Wicked Good Cupcakes. It has been Mr. Wonderful’s most profitable investment of the show. These women have gone from $7,000 in monthly sales to $400,000, or about $4.8 million annually!
Another great success is Rent the Runway, started by two college classmates. It is a high-end dress rental service that offers women a “Cinderella moment” without having to break the bank. The company has $30 million in funding, a team of 140, 2.5 million customers and more than 25,000 dresses available for rental.
There are so many other great stories to tell, but one that many in San Antonio will definitely recognize is a long-standing restaurant started by two sisters. I can only be referring to the very popular Twin Sisters Bakery and Café on North New Braunfels!
Finally, I relate a story about two San Antonio women who have built a very successful business together. I refer to Jan King and Eileen Sommer of the law firm King & Sommer. They were friends and partners at the prestigious law firm of Jackson Walker. Eileen had been with the firm for almost 27 years and Jan for 10 years. One day Eileen told Jan that she’d decided to leave the firm to start her own practice, and she asked Jan to join her. Without blinking an eye, Jan said yes.

I guess you could say that the entrepreneurial spirit had welled up in both of them, and they were ready to take a leap of faith together. They spent four months going through all the processes that they, as attorneys, would recommend to clients. King & Sommer, PLLC, Attorneys & Counselors, officially opened their doors on Aug. 20, 2007, using folding tables and chairs. They now have three other attorneys and have doubled their office space. Jan and Eileen loved working at Jackson Walker and credit their experience there for being able to successfully start their own firm. It is indeed a very happy dream-come-true.

By: Linda Elliott