Building Business Relationships – One Swing at a Time

For this small business owner, golf is the great equalizer.

Editor’s Note: We’re putting the focus on entrepreneurs who are getting big results out of their upstart companies. This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews with women small business owners – you can read all the interviews here.  

Golf is in Patrina King’s blood. Ever since she was little, she had a club in her hand. And now she’s intent on showing other businesswomen the value of hitting the links.

That’s why she created Golf Women Mean Business, an organization that encourages women to participate in “business golf.” Patrina argues that there is no more powerful tool in business than networking – and no better place to build meaning relationships than the golf course.

Patrina King as a young girl, when she first discovered her passion for golf.

Learn more about Patrina’s story, as well as her No. 1 tip for small business owners, below:

Longitudes: Tell us about the inspiration behind your business.

Patrina: At the age of 5, my dad put a golf club in my hand and well … the rest was history. He taught himself to play golf in an open field using iron pipes and balls and eventually integrated the local golf course in our small Georgia hometown.

So he wanted me to play because he thought it would open doors for me once I became an adult. And it should have.

But despite 36 golf college scholarship offers, I chose not to pursue the game collegiately. Then I missed a huge business opportunity because I was playing competitively against a client instead of using the game to get to know him.

That was a lesson I wanted to make sure other women didn’t have to learn. I wanted to help them develop business relationships on the golf course.

At the urging of my mentor, I did a talk on the parallels between golf and business. That presentation became the basis for the business I launched in 2014.

Longitudes: What makes your business unique?

Patrina: Our company is for businesswomen who want to play golf for business. As we know, businesswomen are not in business just for social purposes, which we can equate to only driving the golf cart and not playing golf.

They mean business and have a competitive spirit whether they admit it or not. So Golf Women Mean Business means we are women who mean business on and off the golf course.

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Getting women to really believe substantial relationships are built on the golf course is a great challenge.

Longitudes: What is your pitch to potential members?

Patrina: My company offers workshops to business resource groups (or affinity groups) within corporations. Those are the people we deliver our workshops to normally.

The membership organization is for those who want to learn and play as individuals or maybe with a friend. They also take advantage of our social outings and benefits such as special pricing or organized golf play.

I also remind them of the following statistics:

  • An estimated 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf.
  • Executives who play golf make an average of 17 percent more than those who don’t.
  • More than half of all business professionals see golf as the perfect networking tool.

Longitudes: Can you talk a little bit more about golf as a relationship builder?

Patrina: Getting women to really believe that more substantial relationships are built on the golf course is a great challenge.

We keep our heads down, work hard and hope to get noticed. Men, on the other hand, get to know the right people and develop relationships. The golf course builds those relationships. Why can’t we use the same tool?

Longitudes: What has been the biggest payoff for you?

Patrina: The most rewarding part of owning this business is fulfilling a need for people by using a tool that I have had since the age of 5.

Seeing the relief and excitement of women who wanted to play but were unsure on how to get started is the big reward for me. The greater reward is seeing those women put golf to use in their business.

Longitudes: What is your secret to success?

Patrina: Personality is what makes this business work. Golf has a certain reputation, and the perception of golfers is often not welcoming or friendly.

So just being a businesswoman with a little personality who happens to play golf has taken the business a long way. I have been playing golf most of my life and realize that I like the social side of golf much more than the competitive side.

I take the same approach in the business. I believe most businesswomen want to know enough to get by, but they may not take golf as seriously as they should.

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When it comes to logistics, I focus on mitigating risks, reducing costs and excellent customer service.

Longitudes: What advice would you give other women who want to launch a business?

Patrina: Women who want to launch a business should figure out what problem they are going to solve and just do it. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated.

Of course, you must do research on target marketing and other parts of the business plan. But ultimately, women need to set a goal, make a plan and just do it.

Longitudes: What have you learned about supply chains and logistics since becoming and business owner?

Patrina: Much of my supply chain and logistics education has come from trial and error. When it comes to getting our golf box products to customers, I focus on three things: mitigating risks, reducing costs and delivering excellent customer service.

Sometimes suppliers may not have what we need when we need it. So we use several different suppliers to reduce the risk of not getting products to customers on time. We ship quarterly to ensure the products make it to customers when promised. We know that if our suppliers fail, we will ultimately fail.

One of the best tools is UPS’s visibility and tracking communications. This system has provided an extra level of service that our customers have grown to appreciate.

UPS provides tracking details and an updated status of delivery with every golf box. This makes UPS a great partner for our “Golf Box for Her” service.

Longitudes: How are you responding to the latest trends in golf?

Patrina: We still have a long way to go, but the industry is being more inclusive of women. And there is more dialogue about the barriers women face in the sport.

Golf courses are making their clubhouses more women-friendly, and the bigger brands are including more women in their television commercials.

The PGA of America and the LPGA also offer special training sessions for women and kids such as Get Golf Ready. I have partnered with many of the golf courses and major golf brands to help grow the game.

Longitudes: Any final tips for small business owners?

Patrina: Here’s my No.1 tip for small business owners: Don’t be totally self-serving.

Small businesses need to collaborate with someone else at some point to grow and remain sustainable. Because businesses are ultimately people driven, you must give and receive – it’s always a two-way street.

You can learn more about UPS small business solutions here and also begin saving now on your shipping.

Top photo: Patrina King tees off. 

[Images courtesy Golf Women Mean Business]

Patrina King is the founder and CEO of Golf Women Mean Business. The award-winning entrepreneur is considered the leading authority in “business golf.”

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