Running a studio is an enormous undertaking that requires you to wear many hats at once (and with expertise): pedagogy, customer service, business management and beyond. Some owners find they're better off doing the work with a trusted partner by their side—someone to share both the responsibilities and the rewards. But finding the right person to work with isn't easy. You need someone whose personality, strengths and weaknesses complement your own. Here, three sets of successful partners get to the heart of how they make it work.
Donna Lee Studio of Dance
Years in business: 39
The relationship between Vicky Gonzalez and Alicia Norwood has evolved over several decades. Norwood was initially one of Gonzalez's dance teachers at Donna Lee Studio of Dance. After Gonzalez grew up and danced professionally, she returned to her hometown and joined the studio faculty. When the studio founder decided to retire in 2006, she offered to sell the duo the business. They entered a 50-50 partnership, and in the intervening years have become strong partners and great friends.
Responsibility divide: "We're a great balance as far as training goes," says Gonzalez. "Alicia's focus is the tap and jazz side. My main focus is ballet. On the administrative side, I'm more of an ideas person, and Alicia is the one who grounds those ideas and helps put them into action."
Communication style: The two of them frequently stay in touch via text, but they also spend a few hours in the studio office most afternoons, so they can sort out business-related tasks together before classes begin for the day.
Success secret: "We always have a choice to see the best or the worst in people," says Gonzalez. "Alicia and I have always chosen to see the best in each other."
Partnering perk: "The ability to maintain a personal life outside of the studio," says Gonzalez. "I was able to start a family without worrying about what was happening at the studio while on maternity leave, because there was someone there who cares as much as I do. We also each take a day off every week. The only reason we can do that is because the other one is at the studio."
Words of wisdom: "Although no partnership is 50-50 all the time, it evens out in the end," says Gonzalez.