FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

When is it time to grow staffing and what are the pros and cons to bringing on a formal partner?
Contributed by Gary Cole

Most face painters start out on a solo basis and as they grow they will soon find out that they can only be in one place at a time. When you start to have to turn down jobs you are losing money, it is time to think about expanding and that can be done in a number of ways. 

1)      Train your own staff and keep full control of supplies, marketing and cash flow. Look at www.rubyredpaint.com/faq.htm for resources on training.

2)      Network with a number of other face painters that you see as “friendly competition” and work out some sort of profit sharing.

3)      Bring on a family member or someone otherwise close to be your assistant. This would be someone you have a very high trust level with.

4)      Contract out the work you cannot do yourself.

5)      Obtain a partner.

 Every option has its share of pros and cons.

                        Pro                                                                            Con

1)      You have control of money and worker placement                It takes a lot of effort to properly train and it will give you ulcers managing others

2)      Competition tends to already have supplies and training          Competition is expensive and you risk them stealing your customers

3)      Family tends to be most trustworthy                            Family is harder to look at you as the one in charge. They don’t like to be managed.

4)      You still make some money and get exposure                   You risk losing that customer unless it is well controlled

5)      You have someone to share the work                           Partnerships, in face painting, rarely work out

 I tell you a partnership rarely works out in the face painting world. I have heard of many horror stories and it leaves everyone with a lot of hard feelings. Generally you have one person much more dedicated to the business and why share the money equally when you are doing 80% of the work? Also there are many ways to run a company. One might focus on growth and the other fun events and the other purely looks at money generated. You need to agree on this up front and be careful as focus can change as time goes on. If you have the control, you can decide yourself on how much money you wish to spend on everything from advertising to fixtures for your festival booth. Anytime money and time is involved it is rare that you will find another that will be equally yoked with you. Most people in this industry are artists first and business people second. One is a left brained activity and the other a right brained activity. Rarely do you have someone that has enough of a balance to make it work into a successful business. I’m not saying it cannot happen, I’m saying it is rare. One will never make a comfortable living as a face painter working alone. To make a living you need to do much more than work weekends as a face painter. I have had multiple partners over the years and in every case I have regretted it. RARELY can you get balance in a partnership because one is almost always more of a worker and one is more willing to accept risk. When I say this I mean things like paying an up front deposit of $2000 for a booth at a festival for the potential to earn $10,000. In the end if it rains every day of the festival someone is going to be out $2000. It is decisions like that that will crush you.

 I would only suggest a partner if they are bringing something to the partnership that is vitally needed. For example if you have great face painting skills and the other person is an ok painter but has great business skills then the match could work. If the other person is really just a helper, then partnership should be out of the question. I would also make sure there is a big difference between an alliance and a formal legal partnership. You need to ask yourself what are you going to do when the partnership falls all apart? Think of it in these terms… say you and a partner team up. It goes great for five years and both of you make a lot of money and both of you have a lot of fun. Then things go sour for any number of a thousand reasons. If the business phone number is in the name of the other person then the company falls apart and they get all of the business, marketing and blood sweat and tears that was poured into the business over the last five years and you just got screwed. When you have a partner they have the ability to pose a liability for you. Foe example they can be the one to commit thousands of dollars on advertising that you think is a total waste of money. I tell you I would only go into a partnership for one of three reasons… 1) I personally had a void in my personal skills and the incoming partner would make me whole.  2)The other is going to bring a lot of business for you and you probably could not get on your own. And lastly, 3) I owned 51% of the partnership and everything was in my name.

 I tell you the world can really beat you up. I personally am a very honest person and I would go out of my way to make things fair. Unfortunately the world isn’t the same way. You need to sit down and make a good long list of the pros and cons to your perspective partner. Be honest with yourself and that partner. Ask specifically what would be expected by each partner, how the money would be split and discuss openly a full business plan. You also need to discuss what will happen when the company falls apart down the road as most partnerships fail.  You need a clear exit plan. IT ALL NEEDS TO BE CLEARLY WRITTEN DOWN AND BOTH OF YOU SIGN IT. When in doubt… avoid a partnership. Instead work out a fair worker agreement that is a win win.


Gary Cole www.partyface.us




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