Monday, March 28, 2011

Business Partner

Photo by Piper Kinney Photography
When Holly and I decided that we wanted to start a business together, we both got a lot of advice. One of the big concerns that friends and family shared with us was having a business partner. We appreciated their concern because we know the statics. Generally, business partnerships don't last. One partner ends up buying out the other partner because they can't agree on the direction of the business. We get that!

For me, I was not going to start another business without having a partner. I owned an advertising and public relations agency for five years. I loved being a business owner, but I didn't like not having a partner. For example, if I went on vacation, by business didn't run. I wanted someone who I could bounce ideas off of, who had a vested interest in the success of my agency and could bring their own experience to the table. When, I sold C Media in 2008, I told my husband that the only way that I would ever own another business was if I had a partner.

Flash forward to June 2009. Holly and I had been kicking ideas around for our business. Then, she called one warm summer morning with the idea for We are asked a lot if it was a hard decision to put our own money behind the idea. And I have to say that the answer is no. We both caught fever immediately!

Here's why I think that our business partnership works...
  • We were friends before we started, but we weren't friends for a long period of time. There is no "water under the bridge" that we bring to the table.
  • Our children are the same ages. I can sympathize when she can't work one day because the kids are sick, have a school play, field trip, etc. She can do the same for me. 
  • We have similar skill sets but not the same. When I went to Disney World for a week, she could take over my responsibilities and keep my "balls in the air." I think that it's important not to have the exact same skill set because then we would be stepping on each others toes. I also think that if our skill sets were not somewhat overlapping then it would be hard to find a common ground to work from.
  • We try to keep a balance in our relationship. We talk business one minute and share a funny story about the kids the next minute. I think this helps to keep us grounded and to keep the friendship going.
  • We both have the same core values. I don't have to worry that she is conducting business on my behalf in a way that I would disagree with.
  • We discuss all business decisions with each other. Even if it's her area of expertise, she'll run it by me first. I do the same. She doesn't need my advice or permission, but it keeps us on the same page.
  • We respect each other and are able to empathize. I think that this is so important. We have not always agreed on everything, but we have always been able to see the other person's point of view and consider where that point of view is coming from.
Here is the number one reason why I think that our partnership is one that will beat the odds. We both want to be wildly successful but not at the cost of our relationships with our husbands, children or each other.

Here's my hope! When our last children go off to college, we can have a long lunch and reminisce about our 20 years of friendship, our business relationship and  laugh at our mommyhood stories. And we can cheers to STILL bring friends.


Monday, March 21, 2011

TV Stars?

So the big day was finally here. was about to make its television debut. We've been waiting for this day for 10 whole days. That's like 70 days in dog years!

Let me digress. I got the news of when our segment would air while my family and I were celebrating my daughters fifth birthday at Disney World. As you know, they pump pour oxygen into the park so that you feel great the whole time you're there and can stay awake for four days straight. We returned home late Friday night. I set my DVR as soon as I walked in the door so that I wouldn't miss seeing our name in lights. Saturday morning, I woke up with a Disney induced hang over. I literally think that I was suffering from exhaustion. Our big watching party had to be canceled. Boo! I was totally bummed. This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to, and I had a fever.

To make me feel better, my husband came up with a great plan. He would pick up picnic food, and just the four of us would watch the BIG television debut together. I spread a picnic blanket on the floor. I told my daughter my very exciting news, "Guess what! Mommy and Miss Holly are going to be on TV!" My daughter says, "I'm bummed! I want to be on TV too. Why do you and Miss Holly get to have all the fun?!?" My first thought was to remind her that, "Hello! You just got back from four days at the happiest and most magical place on earth where we catered to your every desire, sang you happy birthday at every meal and you had a cupcake as dessert three times a day, and your asking why Miss Holly and I get to have all the fun!!!!!!!!!!" Instead, I composed myself and made this a teaching opportunity. I explained how hard that Miss Holly and I have worked for the past year and a half. This is just a nice way to bring attention to all of our hard work and show the TV audience what a great business we have. I reminded her that it's always nice to be happy for others. That's part of being a good friend. Okay! I'm patting myself on the back. Just pin a gold star to my chest and call me super mom. Next, I fixed the two-year-old a full cup of milk. That should keep him quiet while my segment is on. I told him, "You know how Micky Mouse and Thomas the Train are in the TV? Guess what! Mommy is going to be in the TV too. That will be so cool!" His response was to take every pillow off of the couch and build a pillow fort.

Obviously, my kids are not impressed. I called Holly on the phone so that we could watch together without me sharing my Disney Hangover with her and her family. She was just as excited as I was. Finally someone who gets it. We watched with eager anticipation. Boy! We were so proud of the segment. It was a fun and interesting take on our business. It's always so neat to see how others view The reporter did an awesome job. Holly and I were beyond proud! We hung up after we congratulated each other on how cool we are.

My husband was so thrilled for Holly and I. He gave me a big kiss and said that we are really cool and didn't look like frumpy moms at all (that's a HUGE high five for him). My parents called and said that we looked beautiful, we were articulate and they were so proud. What did my children say??? NOTHING! My son ate his grilled cheese and looked very unamused that we were not animated. My daughter asked if she could talk now. You know what this means, to impress kids, you have to be either a six-foot tall rat, have 40 feet of long blonde hair or live in a castle with Prince Charming. Just being a non frumpy mom who has started a fun business which was featured on TV isn't impressive enough.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Lights. Camera. ACTION!

Nearly every day, at the end of the day, I find myself saying or thinking, “Wow, what a day” whether it was good, bad or a combination of the two. But today, I can really say it extra loud and with extra emotion. “WOW. What a day!” Carolanne and I found out less than 24 hours in advance that KIAH, Channel 39 news here in Houston wanted to do a segment on The first coherent thought that went through my excited brain after finding out was, “Thank God my hair was recently highlighted." And then the second thought was, “How can I lose 15 pounds in a day?” I know it sounds prima-donna-ish, but it’s the truth. Then my rational, confident side of my brain kicked into gear and over ruled those thoughts and said, “You are what you are. Be proud of it. Enjoy the moment." And that’s what I did.

Scott Goldsmith with Channel 39 showed up at BarkingWife’s office (which used to be Carolanne’s dining room in her home) and made us feel at ease right away. Within twenty minutes, the camera was rolling. As much as I wanted him to shout out, “Lights. Camera. Action!” He didn’t. That probably would have freaked us out anyway – or made us giggle to the point where we couldn’t stop. I have to admit, I was nervous. I was so hoping that the words would come out of my mouth the right way and that I could communicate how much I love our business. Thank heavens it was not a live broadcast. So really, mistakes were forgivable and could be edited out. That took some of the pressure off. But there is just something about having a TV camera three feet in front of your face that makes you work hard to keep the nerves where they are hopefully undetectable. Looking into the camera made me feel like I was looking into a gateway they held limitless possibilities and promise for

So, when does it air??? I want to know. Our BarkingWife fans want to know. And most importantly, my mom wants to know. Scott said it would air in about 2 weeks. So that would mean around March 25th. We will let you know as soon as we find out. 

All in all, the interview went great. It was a fun day. I was excited, nervous, happy, hopeful and a myriad of other emotions. Carolanne and I loved being rock stars if only for an hour. We are so excited to see the finished segment on Channel 39. Thanks Scott and Channel 39 news for telling Houston about and for giving us a big break! “That’s a wrap!” (Ok, so Scott didn’t really say that either, but in my mind I’m pretending he did.)


Friday, March 4, 2011

I Am Brave!

Chinese Symbol for Brave!
When I meet new people, I am always asked the question, "What do you do for a living?" I love responding with "I own an Internet based business called" The reactions are varied. Some ask me to repeat the name because they don't believe that they heard it correctly. Some immediately perk up and excitedly ask a ton of questions. One of my favorite reactions was from an elderly man. He said, "Darlin', I run like hell from barking wives." The reactions are always fun! I've never had anyone that didn't give some sort of interesting response. It usually is a great conversation starter that leads to fun marketing research for my business.

Yesterday, I met a girl who gave me the most  interesting reaction ever. When I told her about my business, she said, "You are one of the bravest people that I've ever met." What? Me brave. NEVER! When I think of my personality characteristics, brave is not on the list. I asked her why she thought I was brave. She said that that having an idea and actually putting money and time toward supporting the idea to make it happen was so brave.

This got me thinking. Maybe entrepreneurs brains are wired differently. Maybe we aren't smart enough to doubt our ideas. Is it really bravery or stupidity? Hmmmmmm....

I was fortunate to begin my career by working closely for a great entrepreneur in the technology world. I would present a new marketing idea or advertising strategy. I would have all my charts and graphs and research to support my idea. He would glance at my presentation. At the end, he would ask me, "Carolanne, what does your gut tell you?" At first, I would quote a statistic or piece of research. He would interrupt me and say, "I don't care what your research says, what does your gut say." He preached to all of us that if in the deepest part of your soul if you don't believe that your decision is correct, then it's not. If you're using statistics or research to help you feel better about a strategy or decision, then it's not right. You always know the right answer if you just stop and listen.

His wonderful lesson, taught to a 22-year-old kid, has helped me throughout my life. I have used his wise words to help me make the most important decisions of my life. I also used it decide to start

So this is what I've decided. I am brave because I am smart enough to trust my gut! I am brave to attempt to make business phone calls while I have an almost two-year-old and five-year-old playing in the next room. I am brave to write these blog posts for all to read. I am brave to put my idea,, out in the Internet world for all to see. It was the right decision. I knew it in my gut :-)