A newer council minority business connects with a more established one, to form a business partnership for mutual growth
by Pat Patterson, 12/6/17
MYS Project & Brand Management (MYS) joined forces with Sumnu Marketing LLC (Sumnu), in a business partnership and are successfully winning new professional services contracts. Their relationship reflects a special synergy, defined in the familiar saying, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. It’s a growth strategy that many small businesses either overlook or shy away from. For these two firms, headquartered in the Las Vegas Nevada area, it has proven to be a winning strategy. Both are award winning Western Region Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC) minority-owned businesses (MBEs). Most recently, SUMNU was awarded 2017 National ‘Supplier of the Year’ by the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
MYS is a project and brand management business, founded in 2014 by Myisha Williams, Project Director and Managing Member, and co-owner, Laura Silva, Creative Director and Managing Member. Sumnu is a strategic marketing communications and community outreach company, founded in 2006 by Shaundell Newsome, Visionary Founder. MYS won WRMSDC’s “2016 Rising Star MBE” award for demonstrating exceptional involvement, strong growth potential, and council support. Sumnu was awarded 2017 “Supplier of the Year” designation from both WRMSDC and its National organization (NMSDC) in October, for its business growth and development, operational success, support of other minority businesses and active participation in the community. Both companies conduct business nationally and share the vision and passion of impacting communities through economic growth.
Both companies recognized the power and benefits of combining core competencies to present a stronger case when going after larger contracts. “It was like the little guys banding together to beat Goliath”, stated Williams. “Two ‘Class I’ MBEs, (those under $1 million in revenues by WRMSDC standards), could now compete as one ‘Class II’ MBE, (revenues of $1-10 million)”.
MYS had been successful in securing contracts and although interested in larger opportunities, Williams knew competing for them would be a challenge. She was familiar with Sumnu and their capabilities that might complement her own, so she approached Newsome. “I met with Shaundell, who is a well-connected, respected business leader in the same industry and local area. We learned about each other’s visions and goals, saw the similarities and possibilities, thus began development of our partnership”, cited Williams. She credits Newsome with having the foresight to envision the value of partnering with an emerging business and the humility to openly share Sumnu’s established reputation, culture, and contacts for the joint benefit of both organizations.
The timing was perfect, as Newsome, well established in the industry, had considered teaming with another company for added growth. Newsome was impressed with William’s’ initial approach. “Ms. Williams knew about Sumnu and presented her value proposition of how her company could help mine – something I rarely experienced with small businesses who approached me”, stated Newsome. The two company’s strengths made for a strong combined presence. They began responding to requests for quotations and landing contracts.
A solid example of ‘what worked’ was a State of Washington contract they secured, for a youth marijuana prevention messaging program. Sumnu had a long-time track record with grass roots community outreach, youth focus groups, and strategic marketing communications, and MYS led the way with project management, brand management and graphic design services. Together they addressed all requirements, won the contract and created “It’s Clouding Your Future”, a statewide outreach and marketing campaign. It targeted African and African American youth, using social media. “Our specialty is very grass roots: really getting into communities to understand the problem, handling the psychographics, or behaviors of students, parents, teachers, youth leaders and others. MYS combined their project management skills with the visual and tangible elements of graphic design, social media messaging and an internet marketing strategy”, stated Newsome.
A few benefits of the business partnership include: a new, deeper bench, an immediate scaling, the ability to extend capabilities with the complimentary services, and being more competitive within larger scopes of work from potential customers.
The two-way mentorships are another ongoing benefit. Mentoring provides constant learning and continuous improvement as they learn from each other. Sumnu, with nearly 12 years in business, generously opened its doors to its key contacts including the Urban Chamber of Commerce, and likewise, MYS shared its project management software and skills with Sumnu, who integrated it into their business processes.
Success ‘Must Haves’
Williams, not one to reinvent the wheel, and Newsome, with a passion to educate and building capacity for small businesses, shared several ‘must haves’ for other MBEs, when establishing and maintaining successful business partnerships. They include:
- A good vetting process/sharing of company values
- Building and maintaining trust
- Respect of each party’s strengths and weaknesses
- Working collaboratively
- Ongoing communications and flexibility
- Realistic start/beginning with a small contract
- Good organization and monitoring
As with any business there are challenges. Creating and maintaining partnerships takes time, an investment required by both parties to foster authentic relationships. A few challenges Williams and Newsome identified included:
- Securing mutual availability of key resources when needed
- Avoiding the grey areas by clearly detailing scope and responsibilities
- Ongoing, candid communications, checking of egos and expressing vulnerability
- Losing focus on the customer first principle.
Williams has a passion for the development, advocacy and support of her fellow diverse businesses and works closely with several organizations such as WRMSDC, Urban Chamber, Latino Chamber and WBENC. Newsome provides mentoring and a broad range of resources and means to educate, engage and elevate small businesses. He works with many organizations including the College of Southern Nevada, WRMSDC, Small Business Administration and the Nevada Small Business Development Centers.
“We are truly examples of “the whole being greater than the sum of the parts”. It’s important to share our success with WRMSDC corporate members, council and other MBEs and other diverse businesses, with the hopes that we can shed some light on the basics or incremental steps of what it takes to engage in successful business partnerships, be positioned for new contract opportunities, grow our businesses and make an impact on our communities”, both Williams and Newsome agreed.
Contact : Pat Patterson, 510.499.3392 • email@example.com
MBE Contact: Shaundell Newsome, Visionary Founder
Sumnu Marketing LLC