Sage Advice UK

Rocking Ur Teens, Social Media Makes Sense and Inbox Translation on business partnerships

Business partnerships can make life easier

It can be lonely at the top. Running your own business can give you the keys to unlock something you’re passionate about and turn it into a career.

But when the reality of the daily grind comes back in the form of dealing with admin, promoting your company and trying to find new customers, it can be hard if you’re working by yourself – or leading a business on your own.

However, if you’re working in a business partnership, the reality can be very different. A business partner in crime means having someone to work alongside and bounce ideas off, which can leave you reaping the rewards.

And if your skill set is in promotions and selling the business, having someone who offers a complementary set of skills, say on the finance and admin side, means you can come together as a team that’s punching hard on all fronts.

We’ve spoken to a few ambitious company owners who work in business partnerships to find out how they work together – and why they love to do so, the benefits of having someone else to work alongside, the challenges they face and how being in a partnership can offer fruitful solutions.

Sandy Parris, Jenny Garrett and Geoffrey Williams from Rockin Ur Teens

Rocking Ur Teens

Jenny Garrett (with partners in crime Geoffrey Williams and Sandy Parris) talks about the impact the social enterprise has had.

Tell us about your business.

Rocking Ur Teens is a social enterprise that was formed to address findings in the Good Childhood Report, which highlighted a lack of self-esteem, a happiness gap between girls and boys, and an increase in mental health problems among young people. Our aim is to motivate and empower those in their early teens with future goals and offer inspiration and aspirational guidance to potential careers.

Our mission is to support and inspire young people to create personal and social change and in doing so help them understand their strength and capabilities. Delivered in an informative, engaging and entertaining way, it’s our goal to communicate how collective energy will impact the next generation of teens in years to follow.

To date, Rocking Ur Teens has welcomed more than 850 boys and girls along with 75 inspirational speakers at its annual single sex conferences in the UK.

The speakers include award-winning mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin MBE, Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, who is the CEO of social enterprise Stemettes – which supports young women into science, technology, engineering and maths careers – and women in football ambassador Annie Z.

The next five years will see Rocking Ur Teens aim to host these events on a global level with a view to forming a revolutionary Teen Hood.

Who are your partners in crime?

Geoffrey Williams and Sandy Parris.

Why did you decide to work together?

We all have a passion for making a difference in the lives of young people and would have benefited from Rocking Ur Teens-style inspirational events when we were in our teens. In addition, we all have different skill sets that are very complementary.

What’s great about working together?

It’s great to share the workload, spark ideas off one another and challenge each other to make what we do even more impactful.

What does each of you bring to the table to successfully run your business?

Geoffrey brings a strategic and corporate lens as well as creativity. Sandy manages the numbers and is a fantastic event manager. I bring motivation, connections from my network and resources in terms of my team.

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How have you grown your business together?

Together, we have grown the business through word of mouth from schools, parents and students, social and print media and us sharing our mission with as many people as will listen!

What sorts of challenges have you faced?

Cash flow has been our biggest challenge, as well as finding venues and corporate sponsors to make our events viable.

How has having your partners in crime helped to solve those challenges?

We all own the challenge and come up with different solutions, from speaking to our connections to fundraising personally or approaching corporates.

How do you work together on managing the financial and admin sides of your business?

Sandy keeps us on track with the finances. Most admin is done through my other company – Reflexion Associates – on a voluntary basis.

What are your plans for your business – and how will you work with your partners in crime to make them a reality?

We plan to take our conferences around the UK and then to Europe and launch our Teen Awards. We will make this a reality by finding the right partners to collaborate with and some forward-thinking sponsors who really want to make a difference to the next generation.

Nancy Jaeger and Joanna Booth from Social Media Makes Sense

Social Media Makes Sense

Joanna Booth (with partner in crime Nancy Jaeger) talks about how a mum and daughter business has combined the worlds of social media and PR to create something great.

Tell us about your business.

Social Media Makes Sense offers social media consultancy, training, strategy and management services primarily to the film and TV industry. With clients ranging from ITV’s Victoria and BBC’s Poldark to Channel 4’s Young, Gifted & Broke and Channel 5’s Elf: The Musical, SMMS specialises in creating immersive, innovate and imaginative social media campaigns.

Who is your partner in crime?

My mum, Nancy Jaeger. It’s unusual, we know. Normally, a child comes into a family business and works their way up. With us, we started this venture together from the beginning. We are frequently asked about how we make it work and which one of us is “the boss”. I’m the boss, that’s how it works!

Seriously, we made a conscious decision that I would be the boss as it causes fewer arguments and less bad feeling; otherwise I just hear “mummy” bossing me around at work. Having said that, we are 50/50 directors so we really are partners in crime.

Why did you decide to work together?

With Nancy’s PR experience and my social media knowledge, it just seemed like a good fit. We didn’t really think about it, it just happened.

What’s great about working together?

We know each other, love each other and want to make the business a success. Having a business partner can be both a blessing (you share the stresses) but also incredibly hard (you need to fully trust their decisions).

Working with my mum means I know I can trust her, I know what she’s thinking and why she suggests things. We bounce ideas off each other and keep each other focused too.

What does each of you bring to the table to successfully run your business?

Nancy takes care of everything operational (accounts, HR, etc) and I take care of the clients (meetings, strategy decisions, etc) but we both love thinking of ideas and taking the business to the next level.

Nancy has so much experience, it’s like working with a mentor every day. On the other hand, she knows very little about social media and I’m an expert. It’s a nice balance.

How have you grown your business together?

We started in 2015 in our spare bedroom at home and we now employ four staff and have a wonderful portfolio of clients. It’s not been easy but we’ve always tried to pool our expertise and energy to make sure we keep growing.

What sorts of challenges have you faced?

Apart from not killing each other? I’m joking. With any business there are always challenges, from finances to staffing, and so on. But I think our biggest challenge has been having one source of income for us both. We are very aware that our household is dependent on one company’s success.

How has having a partner in crime helped to solve those challenges?

We have a common goal and a fire under our backsides to make sure we work as a team to keep the money coming in. Sharing ideas, pushing each other and working late to make sure we get the job done – and clients coming through the doors.

How do you work together on managing the financial and admin sides of your business?

Apart from getting monthly cash flows and daily updates from Nancy, I stay out of it. I know what’s going on, where we are at and what we need to be doing but Nancy takes care of paying bills, chasing invoices and any of admin. Too many cooks spoil the broth, as they say.

What are your plans for your business – and how will you work with your partner in crime to make them a reality?

We want to continue to grow and expand our offering exponentially over the next two years. We aim to do this by having regular meetings with our business coach, focus ourselves on continuing to deliver excellent service to our existing clients (we get a lot of work based on word of mouth) and marketing ourselves more effectively within our market. Between us, we will keep focused, energised and growing.

Flo Bejgu and Alina Cincan from Inbox Translation

Inbox Translation

Alina Cincan (with partner in crime Flo Bejgu) talks about running the business with her life partner.

Tell me about your business.

Inbox Translation is, as the name suggests, a translation agency. We enable businesses to expand into new markets by helping them communicate effectively in their clients’ language. As former German chancellor Willy Brandt famously said: “If I am selling​ to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen sie Deutsch sprechen.”

Who is your partner in crime?

My partner in business is also my life partner, best friend and sounding board – Flo Bejgu.

Why did you decide to work together?

Our business started as a school project (just like FedEx) when Flo was studying for his MSc degree. A couple of years later, we thought we could go from paper to the real thing.

What’s great about working together?

The fact that we know each other so well and our complementary skills. Some couples may find it off-putting to be together 24/7 but it’s working fine in our case. 

What does each of you bring to the table to successfully run your business?

The greatest advantage in our case is that we have different skills. I brought in my knowledge of and experience in the translation and language profession, while he came with marketing and technical skills without which the business would have not been able to grow.

How have you grown your business together?

By discussing (even if we are not always on the same page) each aspect of the business and working hard.

Being a couple in real life has meant we find ourselves talking about the business while shopping, for example, or maybe while watching a film if an idea strikes, so there was never a need to wait until Monday/the next morning to discuss it with someone. Also, since this is our “baby”, we invest a lot of energy and love into it and we both understand and know why.

What sorts of challenges have you faced?

Any business, regardless of the field, will face challenges at some point, big or small, be it choosing the right people, dealing with late payments, budgeting and investing in the business.

As a couple running a business, the biggest challenge has probably been separating the business from our personal life. While this has been mainly an advantage, sometimes we do feel the need to take a break (usually a short one) and focus on other things we like to do.

How has having a partner in crime helped to solve those challenges?

Having someone to consult with, to bounce ideas off and sometimes to calm me when I panic (Flo is the most patient person I know) is a life – and business – saver. Having different backgrounds really pays off as it helps us to look at issues from various angles so we can choose the best way forward.

How do you work together on managing the financial and admin sides of your business?

Despite my background in language, I have always loved maths and numbers too. I am also very organised (a former line manager once described me as “scarily organised”), so admin is never an issue. Of course, we make all financial decisions together (such as what to invest in).

What are your plans for your business – and how will you work with your partner in crime to make them a reality?

We’re looking to expand the business (isn’t this what every business person wants?). I don’t think much will change in the way we work together though, as it seems we have managed to find the right balance.

What are your stories of working in business partnerships and who are your partners in crime? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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