HLN Meets: Beyond Partners
With over 40 years’ collective expertise in corporate life, Maxine Henry and Sally Cowling know a thing or two about business. So, when they decided to leave behind roles in international businesses to set up on their own, they knew it would be quite the change of pace
By Libby Marks
You were both high-flyers in the business world. What motivated you to give it all up?
Maxine: ‘We’re all about finding your why. Why you do things. We only get one life and making sure you use it to do something you love and that can make a difference is really important to both of us.’
Sally: ‘After working in the corporate world for many years, we were ready to make the leap into doing something different. We needed something new and exciting and, after all, if you change nothing, nothing will change.’
Maxine: ‘It’s opened up so many new doors and we’ve loved every minute of it. Not only do we get to meet and work with some fantastic people, but we also get to spend more time with our families as we fit work around home life.’
Why did you decide to set up Beyond Partners together?
Sally: ‘We’ve worked together in the past, so we knew that the co-founding route was an obvious choice for us. Not only do we have the freedom and flexibility which being a business owner brings, but we’ve each got a cheerleader – someone to share the highs and the lows with, but perhaps most importantly, someone to laugh with.’
Maxine: ‘Knowing someone has your back is both comforting and powerful at the same time. We always know we have a sounding board and also that there’s someone there for a reality check! Practically it brings advantages too; if one of us is away, there’s always someone in the business ensuring that we’re delivering for our clients.’
Maxine, your background is HR. Sally, yours is marketing. How do those two areas fit together in Beyond Partners?
Sally: ‘Really well, actually. We’re big believers that happy people build brilliant brands from the inside – helping businesses achieve more on the outside. So we’ve joined forces to disrupt the traditional approach of separate HR and Marketing functions. We’re developing joined-up people and marcomm strategies to create a strong brand, strong leaders and a great place to work.’
Maxine: ‘We’re both bringing our individual experience and skills together to be able to provide that joined-up thinking. As experts in our individual areas, we’re also able to offer support to clients who need specific HR or Marketing solutions too
You clearly know your ‘why’ as a business – and that’s something you’re keen to help your clients uncover too.
Maxine: ‘Having a purpose is the key to getting all of your people rowing in the same direction. Without that clarity, there’s no focus.’
Sally: ‘Knowing your ‘why’ can help you navigate through uncertain times and help make decisions, but above all it helps your people to understand why they are important and how they play a part in reaching your goals. So our advice is always to know your “why” and make sure you communicate it and live by it.’
Maxine: ‘Mapping out our “why” was the first thing we did when we set up Beyond Partners. And as we grow, we know that this will be our North Star to keep us on the right course.’
More of us are considering self-employment as a result of COVID. Have you got any advice for starting a business together?
Maxine: ‘Our number one piece of advice is to make sure you’re co-founding with the right person. We’ve known for a while that we work well together and, to a certain extent, you trust your gut instinct. But if you start your business on the solid foundations of shared values, you’ll definitely have a greater chance of success.’
Sally: ‘The Beyond Partners values were inspired by our individual values and so we both feel like we own them. Keep it simple, keep it honest and keep it real. Those three concepts run through the fabric of everything that we do.’
Maxine: ‘Being honest with each other is top tip number two. As in any good relationship, honesty and trust are key to helping you thrive. Right at the start we had some very open conversations and getting your cards on the table from the get-go will help you to see if co-founding is right for you.’
Sally: ‘Communication is also key – and we don’t just mean talking, we mean listening too. Having someone to bounce ideas off, someone who will listen to your (sometimes crazy) ideas is up there with one of the biggest benefits of being co-founders.’
‘And finally, make sure you celebrate your wins and laugh together – something which wouldn’t be so easy on your own, but with a partner in crime you can enjoy the success of your business together.’
Libby Marks is a freelance content writer, copywriter and marketing consultant based in Newcastle. Libby works with busy marketers and business owners, helping them attract and engage customers with high-quality written content. She specialises in writing search-optimised blog posts, articles, ebooks and guides, helping websites gain visibility and visitors: Write on Tyne: Copywriting and Content