R. Shawn McBride was recently interviewed by Tilde Guajardo on Womanars. In part 2 of that interview, Shawn talks about women in business partnerships.
Tilde: So I know Shawn, what are you going to be teaching the audience today? I know you’re wanting to share that.
R. Shawn McBride: Exactly, I want to spend a little time and I want to talk about really what women can do in partnerships. I’m a big proponent of business partnerships. I know they have some downsides. You and I talked a little bit offline about it and we’ll probably talk about a little bit today.
Let’s be realistic, partnerships are not a magic bullet of sorts but they do have a lot of upsides. If you look at the Googles of the world, we look at a lot of these big businesses. Ford had partnerships at one point. Home Depot, a lot of big companies have had multiple owners, multiple sources of influence. So it really does unlock a lot of stuff. A lot of my clients tell me they can do things as a partnership with multiple points of view and input that they can’t do as an individualized business. And that’s the world we’re moving into, right. Each of us needs to be specialized in what we’re great at. That’s what we’re going to make our money off of. And sometimes, the right piece is to have other people in the business that have other skillsets, and then we work together. So I’m a big proponent of partnerships. We’ll be talking today about specific “can pull together partnerships” and what they do really well. And give some kind of high-level pointers on how we can start building those types of businesses.
Tilde: Awesome, well I’m excited to sit back and become part of the audience and learn from the tips that you’re going to be giving so the floor is yours. Please go ahead.
R. Shawn McBride: My pleasure. Okay, so I have a brief power point which I will share with folks here today. So, we’ll go a little bit into women and their partnership profit potentials and what they can do. And we’ll go from there. So, as you can see folks, you know one of the things that women do well in business -that’s what we’re going to be exploring today as we’ll dig a little bit into really what is unique. And I think everybody’s got unique ways to compete and I’m not about stereotypes. When I talk about this, I don’t say, all women are this way, all women are that way. But we see statistically based on research studies where we put women and men into real situations that women respond differently.
And as I look at successful businesses, I see that some women do things a different way than their male counterparts. So we want to figure out what we can do well and what is going to help us succeed in business so that we can grow more. And that’s what we’re going to focus on today. And I’d like to start with a case study. And there’s a group out there called Studio for Image for Executives. So, they work basically, these two ladies Sylvie Di Cristo and Shawna McKinsey which you see on the screen. Silvie has the dark hair, Shawna has the lighter hair. They work together to do image consulting for folks that work with executives so they’re training–
So, Silvie and Shawna have worked together with training others to provide executive image consulting and the two of them were working separately in businesses. But what was interesting is Silvie told me, before she was partners with Shawna is she did a competitive landscape survey and she looked for her competitors like many of us would do. You know, who else is out there offering what we’re offering. Who do we have to worry about? And both of them were providing the service but in different parts of the country but they were doing it online so a lot of their customers were getting confused, you know – do I got to Silvie or do I go to Shawna. Which one is my right person? And they were really bumping up against each other as competitors.
And so one day, Silvie just picked up the phone literally and called Shawna and she’s like hey, I’ve been watching you for several years. I like what you’re doing with your business. And it turns out, Shawna had done the same thing with Silvie. She had been watching Silvie from a distance. So the two of these soon to be business partners were watching each other as competitors at first. But when they came together, they had a very open and honest discussion with each other and they talked about what they both were doing, what they’re dreams are and what they’re aspirations are. I think we’ll hit on that later but that’s one thing that’s very unique that we find in women partnerships, generally is that level of communication. Women will talk about what they what to do and how they want to do it. And the two of them had that heart to heart discussion. They said, what do we each want to do and how can we do more together? And of course, now suddenly, they’re developing materials together. You’ve got two great minds working together. And their customer base loved it. They saw better quality material coming out. They ended that confusion of which individual do I work with. And suddenly things were moving much better. So, great things happened because they collaborated. So that kind of just gives us a story of what a partnership can do. It allows them to do more.
And other people can use that same idea and skillset in their partnership. So, I focus on three key things that we see women doing in partnerships that lead to this greatness. And number one is cooperation and collaboration. Women tend to work together with others and they want to work together. When we do research studies, we put women in situations where they are asked whether they want to become compensated based on their own individual input or whether they want to be compensated based on group input or output. They’ll often be willing to be compensated based on what the group does. We don’t see this as much with the male subjects that are in these same research studies. The men tend to want to get individual compensation. I contributed that, I take this. Women are much more willing to work in that collective environment. How do we do more, what do we create . . . and this is wonderful for creating a successful business partnership. When you build it the right way, when you’ve laid a foundation correctly, you get everybody putting into the collective pot and you get something that’s more powerful coming out of it because it has multiple elements from multiple different people. So it’s a wonderful way to blend things, and it’s something that women just do naturally either because of their upbringing or the biological tendencies, we don’t know which. But for whatever reason in modern day, when we put women in situations, they tend to want to be collaborative and work together much more. So, men, this is a great competitive advantage for partnerships. Additionally, women can communicate differently than men. When we look at how women communicate, they tend to use more complex phrases, they tend to have more thoughts and ideas in a given paragraph or set of talking points. So women are more diverse and complex in their language and they get more ideas across generally than their male counterparts. And so for this reason, we have a good foundation for a partnership.
One of the critical things for partnerships is having good communication because when we look at the failed partnerships, it’s often a miscommunication from the beginning. A lot of times when businesses form, one partner has one idea in their head. Another partner has a different idea in their head. They talk very vaguely about the concept and they thought they were in agreement. But at the heart of it, they have a disagreement about what the partnership was and what it was going to do.
So women have this tool set to be able to communicate differently than their male counterpart. They’re able to take and really get the ideas across to each other, collaborate and really think about what they’re doing. So that will lead to a stronger foundation for a partnership and it’s something that women can do very well.
When I talked to Silvie about her relationship with Shawna and how their business has been working, over at Studio for Image Professionals, she told me that it is the communication and the collaboration that’s so critical because they’re working together. They are communicating ideas. They’re getting things in their heads. They would have never done this individually because they’re partners and they’re communicating about what they’re seeing in their industry and their field and what they’re learning in their respective endeavors outside of the partnership, materials, and training they’re doing. And then the third thing that we see women do very well is compromise. When we look at research studies, where we put people in compromising situations, where they can’t get everything they want, women seem to be much better at coming to a compromise.
We take groups of men and men together. Then we take groups of men and women together. Then we take groups of women together. We put them in a research study where they’ll have to get to a compromised outcome. At the end of that research study, the men-men groups were very unlikely to agree on a compromised outcome, whereas the women-women group and even the women-men group were much more likely to agree to some kind of allocation of where they could get to a compromise in these research settings.
So men will often hold the position much harder than women will. Women will find a way to work together. Which, what does this mean when we bring it back to business? It means we are setting a foundation for success. When we build a partnership agreement, you have to compromise in partnerships. There’s no way that everybody’s going to get their way. I mean much like running a family, being out to dinner with your friends, not everybody’s going to agree on the same restaurant. Not everybody’s going to agree together. Men can take that to the extreme and want to disagree with each other whereas women will find some way to come up with that Goldilocks effect and reach a compromise.
What’s more, in a separate research study, they looked at women and men and men would buy things like automobiles or other products, and men will often pick something that is best in a single category. You tell him fuel efficiency is important, you tell them that you need to have a safety rated car and men will typically pick the best in that category. Whereas women will tend to blend multiple different demands together and pick something that compromises. Maybe it’s not the most fuel efficient car, but it’s a fuel efficient car with the high safety rating. They’ll pick multiple dynamics together and this is fantastic for business because this is what we need to do every day in business.
We’re rarely going to have perfect situations. We’re always going to have unique blends of inputs, unique blends of available assets so we’ve got to pull it together in a way that makes sense. So we’ve really got a strong foundation for what can be successful in long-term partnerships with women because that’s something we want to build. We want to build something that lasts and women have some of these key tools that allow us to start moving in that direction of building something long-lasting when we start putting together partnership agreements. And then one of the next steps from that obviously is once we see these elements like Silvie and Shawna saw them, then we want to take and start using those elements in a way that is uniquely us, that really embraces that partnership and allows that economic value to be expanded. And we can talk a little bit about that in a bit.
How do you profit and how do you compete? I mean you want to make sure that you’re embracing what is unique to your partnership and part of it these three C’s we’ve just talked about. That’s something we’re going to see in most women partnerships is embracing these three C’s. Communication, cooperation–
R. Shawn McBride: We’re kind of getting to the end of the power point part of it and we’ll talk a little bit more, you know. Certainly, if people have questions, we’ll take them. But yeah, we’ll talk a little more beyond that. But how do we compete? How do we build the business from there and so we talked about these three C’s, you know. The collaboration, the communication, the compromise. We want to build that in there. But then we want to take all the same into a document where we build that partnership together. How do we blend these pieces together and how do we make sure everybody’s getting compensated for their unique contributions.
So what we’ll do at that point, once we see these women business owners that want to put together a partnership, is we’ll blend that into a partnership document. Typically, it’s an LLC agreement. A lot of times, these are limited liability companies formed under state law. And that LLC agreement will embrace this uniqueness and we build either a compensation structure that is completely collective where everybody gets paid maybe a third of the profits or a quarter of the profits. Or we can build something that’s a little more individualistic that says if you bring more customers, you’ll get paid more or whatever. So we’re looking very custom at this point of talents of the women involved. And that’s one of the keys here is that communication early in the process avoids a lot of problems. Many partnership problems are because of a lack of communication early on. So we want to get a lot of communication early in the process about who’s doing what, how they’re doing it and how they’ll be compensated within the partnership. So everybody feels like they’re being treated fairly. The more of that we do early on, the less problems or issues we’re going to have later in the life of the partnership. So those are really kind of the three key things we’re looking at and that’s how we roll it into a partnership.
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This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein. This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. Each case is unique. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. Freeimages.com/photographer George Bosela.
About the Author
R. Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment, gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 418-0258.