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Rule 9: Find Great Partners

Aug 9, 2008
Sally Thornton is president & co-founder of Flexperience, a boutique Bay-Area firm that connects experienced professionals with part-time, flex-time, or project-based work.

For those working moms considering the entrepreneurial path (the word "momtrepreneur" is still a little odd to me), I suggest you find great partners. The odds of any new business succeeding are daunting to be sure, and then adding on to that our responsibilities as mom - it can leave even the most fantastic idea unexecuted

The rewards of creating my own path, on my own terms, inspired me to think about how I could do it - not if I could do it. The only way I thought I could "do it all" was to not do it all. Instead, I would share the excitement and the workload, by getting the brainpower and experience of other talented moms who shared my values and goals, while adding complimentary skills. I think this is especially critical when I questioned what leader has strategic vision, financial acumen, creative juices, management skills, selling instincts, operational expertise, and wants to spread herself so thinly? I find talented MBA moms to be especially challenged by thinking they should do all the tasks they have learned how to do. Just because you have the capability to do something, doesn't mean you "should" do it. You might instead choose to partner and find the yin to your yang.

I knew choosing the right partners was the first and most important decision I would make in starting the company I founded in 2006. When I met my co-founder Lara, I knew I could launch Flexperience. Lara had the skills, the passion, and the values that complimented mine. Together we could do this almost like a "job share."

Literally the first day I met Lara, I pitched her the business idea (she thought she was just coming for a playdate for our little girls!) and we launched the company seven months later. Weeks later, my friend Michelle said she was interested in joining us, and it took only a few months to realize that we couldn't have done it without all three of us. Together, the three of us not only complimented each other professionally, but we motivated each other personally, and had a lot of fun along the way - which is critical, as there are so many reasons (for example, not making any money the first year) to pull out.

The idea of partnering also applies more broadly to finding great organizations to help each others business grow. For example, before launching Flexperience, I found a great start up called "MommyTrackd.com." I asked the founder for advice on launching, and we ended up staying in touch. I somehow was able to convince them to co-sponsor an event that we called "Mother + Professional = New Formulas for Success."

The idea was to have a panel of working moms who all took creative paths to an interesting professional role so an audience of moms could find practical tips/tricks for negotiating part-time, flex-time, job-shares and be inspired by the fact that there is a lot of grey area between the black and white choices of working full-time or staying at home with the kids. Our partnership called for Flexperience to handle most of the work (it was our idea, after all) and for MommyTrackd.com to help us land cool panelists and sponsors.

As partners, it was fun when they thought we'd be lucky to pull a hundred people, and we had 420 attendees the first time, and a sold-out crowd of 600 the second time! Together we achieved a lot more than either of us would have achieved alone. And...we had fun along the way.

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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