form partnerships because they look at the added value of what a person can bring to their company,” says Brenda Hopper, state director for the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers Network.
Whatever the reason for teaming up, building a solid partnership is not easy. What you intend to be a positive experience can quickly morph into a relationship disaster if it is not structured properly or managed well. (See the sidebar, “10 Keys to a Successful Partnership.”) Shane and Shawn have unlocked the mystery, and so have the dynamic business partners we feature on the following pages. By capitalizing on their strengths and skills, these young entrepreneurs have turned teamwork into highly profitable ventures.
For Shane and Shawn, having a solid partnership has certainly meant commitment, confidence in one another, and the ability to work as a team. But the two also credit their success to their willingness to compromise. That was the case about six months ago when Shawn wanted to sell their shoes through a discount retailer that also carried high-end labels. Shawn thought it was a great opportunity to expand the brand and make money for the company. Shane didn’t agree.
“When I first looked at it I said, ‘Dude, there is no way we should do this because we’re trying to build our brand and it’s too early to take our name and put it in a discount retailer,’” Shane says. “An older brand like Kenneth Cole can [do that] because they’ve already built their name and it’s something that people understand as super high-end. But I was thinking that a lot of people still don’t know about us, so if they see us for the first time in that discount retailer, that could potentially hurt us.”
To settle this dispute, the two agreed to create a brand called Detny Sport for the discount retailer. Although tied to the original brand, it has its own identity. “I think what makes us successful is that we complement each other, but there is also a commitment level that you have to have,” Shane says. “You have to have two or three people who are willing to sink and swim with this thing 110%. If you don’t, it’s not going to work because it is not an easy thing to do.”
According to BizStats.com, an online source for business statistics, only 6% of all small businesses are in the form of partnerships. And even though the National Federation of Independent Business, an advocacy group, reports that partnerships are four times more likely to succeed than sole proprietorships, more than 50% of these joint ventures fail.
UNDER ONE ROOF
When a master homebuilder, financial guru, and savvy salesman decided to marry their resources and individual expertise to start JLW Homes and Communities (www.jlwhomes.com) in Atlanta, they knew exactly what they would be getting into.
Seven years ago, Gregory Wynn, Komichel Johnson, and Robert A. Jones III set out to change the fabric of in-town Atlanta by building quality, affordable housing in some of the city’s