MISSION: To Empower our Members to achieve their Dream of Business Ownership
What is “Promise Partners”?
Promise Partners is a group of experienced and developing entrepreneurs actively realizing their dream of business ownership while driving economic growth in Northeast Ohio. To date, members have bought or started 27 companies.
The Promise Partners network consists of active members, alumni members, mentors, advisors, associate professionals and guest speakers who support active members in their pursuit of business ownership. What makes Promise unique is the concentration of people who share a common goal of business ownership that are willing to help each other. There is no other group in Northeast Ohio with this type of breadth and depth of experience willing to help would-be entrepreneurs in such a direct, personal and meaningful manner.
Promise Partners was inspired by Professor Richard L. Osborne from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and Pat Morris, a former M&A attorney turned entrepreneur. The organization dates back to 1990 when members were selected from among Weatherhead MBA program graduates. Today, new members join from Weatherhead as well as other nomination channels.
Promise Partners is a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation.
How does Promise do it?
Promise provides the facts needed for its members to formulate and pursue clear paths to business ownership. Paths become visible through meetings where the success stories of experienced partners and guest speakers who have “done it” are shared and celebrated. Promise’s volunteer board hosts several formal and informal programs that offer practical advice to partners that help them remove obstacles during their business ownership journey.
Illuminate Paths: Paths are illuminated by celebrating success stories of people that have become business owners. Stories are shared by partners and entrepreneurs brought in as guests speakers. The membership meets for Quarterly Speaker Meetings and visits to companies started or bought by partners annually. Presenters tell their story and interact with members affording unique insights about how they did it. Past speakers have included local entrepreneurs and business leaders such as Mal Mixon, Jack Kahl and Stewart Kohl (past speakers).
Provide Practical Advice: Members also have the opportunity to pursue several formal and informal programs that provide practical advice to partners for all phases of the business ownership progression.
Promote Accountability: Members are all a part of “Flights” that consist of smaller groups of 5-10 people. Flights meet more frequently to support each other in the development of annual business ownership plans. Flight members hold each other accountable towards executing their plans because “a dream without a plan is just a wish.” In addition to flights, many members pursue mentoring opportunities, assist others that are in the process of buying or starting a company and take advantage of other programs that afford practical insights for each step in the progression.
Demonstrate Business Ownership Progression: Flights work together to develop annual business ownership plans covering each stage of the progression 1) Prepare, 2) Launch, 3) Run. During the prepare phase, guidance is provided to encourage each partner to obtain the right kind of professional experience (i.e. P&L responsibility) necessary to “prepare” for business ownership. Focus is also placed on developing strong networks of potential investors and partners that may help the partner start a business or finance an acquisition. Members in the past have typically spent 1-7 years in the prepare phase. Partners who have left their day job to start a business or to begin an acquisition search full time are called “Running Men”. The launch phase focuses on establishing credibility with sellers, creating an acquisition criteria, sourcing opportunities, structuring transactions and reaching closure. Typically the launch phase lasts 1-2 years. Once a partner successfully starts or buys a business, the partner becomes a “Hero”.
What Programs does Promise offer?
To execute its mission, Promise Partners offers several programs for its members. Some of the programs, like the Quarterly Meetings, Social Events, Company Tours and Flights, are coordinated by Promise. Other programs, such as the Right Hand Man and Running Man programs, are enabled by the relationships among members in Promise, but are ultimately executed by members independently.
Flights: Promise members are assigned to sections called Flights to foster planning, accountability and action. Flights meet regularly and review each member's performance relative to a written plan that each member develops and maintains. The plan, which is designed around Professor Richard L. Osborne's "Billion Dollar Idea," serves as the member's road-map through Promise Partner's programs toward the ultimate goal of becoming a Hero.
Quarterly Meetings: Promise members meet the region's most distinctive business leaders in an intimate setting at Quarterly Meetings. These outside resources have demonstrated the qualities, entrepreneurial style and professional success to which Promise members aspire. As such, they represent the finest network available (to be valued but never abused). Contact with these leaders creates a unique learning experience and sets the entrepreneurial benchmark for members.
Running Man: When a member is financially and professionally prepared to engage in a startup or full-time acquisition search, Promise Partners and/or its senior members may choose to "launch" that member, who then becomes known as a Running Man, through a Search Fund such as PromiseOne. Promise and the fund sponsors mentor the Running Man to help ensure his or her startup/acquisition is successful. Once this process is complete, the new business owner becomes known as a Hero. These Heros may, in turn, choose to sponsor subsequent Running Men. Since inception, Promise members have have started or acquired 27 companies.
Right Hand Man: Promise members who are a few years away from becoming a Running Man may be granted the opportunity to work for a Hero in a senior leadership role on a paid, full-time basis by becoming the Hero's Right Hand Man (i.e. COO). While there is no expectation that the Right Hand Man will be given the opportunity to acquire equity in the Hero's business, this program provides the Right Hand Man with experience at the helm of a company while providing the Hero with a resource committed to helping the business grow.
Acquisition Teams: Promise members who are not yet prepared for a Right Hand Man role may be invited to team-up with a Running Man to support him/her in the business search and acquisition process. The selected members, as a team, shadow the Running Man to learn how the search and acquisition process works first-hand. In return, the Running Man gains access to a team of MBAs who can assist with target qualification, preparation of financial models, due diligence and development of post-acquisition strategic plans.
Company Tours: From time to time, Heros offer members the opportunity to tour their businesses' facilities. These represent an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand about the kinds of businesses that our members have started or acquired. They also grant members the opportunity to ask the Hero questions about strategy, operations, marketing, supply chain, HR, IT or acquisition finance (which is always a favorite topic).
Hero's Roundtable: Similar in concept to the Flights but only open to Heros, the Hero's Roundtable provides a forum for supportive peer-to-peer discussion about the challenges faced by business owners and facilitates the collaborative generation of ideas owners may employ to capitalize on business opportunities.
Social Events: In addition to all of the more formal programs, members of Promise Partners enjoy the fellowship of simple social events as well. We often meet for drinks or a meal in small groups or just one-on-one to share business acquisition stories. We go to baseball games and hockey games. We even have an annual sporting event called the Icarus Challege in which Flights compete for bragging rights for the year.
Promise Partners, Inc. 2012-2013 Calendar of Events (Members Only) Download
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:00pm. Recruiting Mixer at Lockkeeers (8001 Rockside Road, Valley View)
Thursday, August 16, 2012 6:00pm. Recruiting Interviews I at Hermit Club (1629 Dodge Court, Cleveland)
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 6:00pm. Recruiting Interviews II at Fathom (8200 Sweet Valley Dr., Valley View)
Wednesday, Sept 12, 2012 6:00pm. Quarterly Meeting at Union Club (1211 Euclid Ave., Cleveland)
Thursday, October 18, 2012 6:30pm. Company Tour at Polycase (1305 Chester Industrial Pkwy, Avon)
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 6:00pm. Quarterly Meeting at Union Club (1211 Euclid Ave., Cleveland)
Monday, February 4, 2013 Icarus Cup (time and location to be announced)
Thursday, March 14, 2013 6:00pm. Quarterly Meeting at Union Club (1211 Euclid Ave., Cleveland)
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 6:30pm. Company Tour at Gillmore Security (26165 Broadway Ave., Cleveland)
Saturday, May 18, 2013 Golf Outing (time and location to be announced)
Saturday, June 1, 2013 9:00am. Annual Meeting at Cleveland Yacht Club (Rocky River)