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Successful Business Partnerships Are Rare. Here’s How to Pull It Off

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I’ve run my software consultancy company, Synapse Studios, for 18 years come December 2021. But I couldn’t have run it successfully all this time by myself. I’ve had the same 50/50 partner since the business’s inception in 2003, when my friend Bob Eagan came to me and asked if I wanted to join him in starting a company building web apps. I said sure, and here we are almost 18 years later.

Those 18 years haven’t been easy, but working with a reliable partner through the complex and exhausting process of building a business made it possible. I had someone else in the trenches with me who was bought in at the same level, and most of the time, our two minds together were better than one.

I’ve realized that a business partnership might as well be a marriage. It’s not always easy, and though our partnership is still going strong after all this time, it hasn’t been without challenges and risks. This is especially true for partners who come together when they’re not on the same page in terms of values or vision. But when you’re aligned and you learn to overcome your disagreements and bickering, you have a relationship with results greater than the sum of its parts.

What Makes a Successful Business Partnership?

When people hear that Bob and I have been in a successful business partnership for this long, they often ask us how we make it work: How are we still productive, and what’s our secret to not flaming out or annoying each other to the breaking point? I’ve had a long time to think through the answers to those questions, and I’ve distilled it all into a few vital pieces of advice for anyone partnering in something as big as a business:

1. Ensure your values align enough—but don’t be afraid to disagree a little.

If you were dating someone and realized you had a completely different values system, it’d be, at the very least, a yellow flag. The same holds true in business partnerships. It’s important that you broadly agree on certain principles and philosophies toward leadership, how you expect to treat your employees and clients, and what you’re trying to accomplish together.

In our case, we probably have an 80% or 90% overlap, and that 10% to 20% delta is where growth comes from. Too little overlap and you won’t see eye-to-eye almost ever, but too much overlap will reduce the value a partner can bring to the table.

2. Similarly, make sure you’re aiming for the same goals.

Aligning around the same goals is really important, and one of the biggest reasons I’ve seen partnerships fail or fizzle is one partner’s goals shifting away from the other partner’s over the years.

For example, if one person is driving hard to grow the company and the other wants to stay put, those overarching goals will drive the decisions each partner makes, and soon you’ll be working at cross-purposes. It’s worth noting that it’s completely natural for people’s goals to change. Openly and regularly discussing these goals and intents is a key to ensuring a healthy and successful business partnership.

“Individually we are one drop; but together we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Sat

3. Clearly delineate responsibilities.

It took exactly one “I thought you ran payroll” for us to realize that most responsibilities need to be just one person’s job. Play to your strengths and identify the tasks, chores, and initiatives each of you will own. That doesn’t mean the other partner won’t have some input, but the final say should rest with whoever owns that task.

4. Be willing to have your mind changed.

Being an entrepreneur is exceedingly hard. It tends to attract type-A personalities who think that they have the right answer most of the time. Despite Bob and I both being extremely opinionated, our superpower is our ability to convince the other one of anything.

The corollary to that is our mutual willingness to hear the other person out and change our minds. We go into a discussion or debate with a position, but we’re genuinely looking to learn from the other person. In the end, I’d rather choose what’s right for the business than win an argument and pick the wrong thing.

5. Define your exit terms early.

My partnership is fairly unusual in its long run and in our continued shared alignment. But it’s important to have a clear mutual understanding of what happens if one partner wants to leave the business or stop participating in the day-to-day.

It’s crucial to have a strong operating agreement that outlines fair, agreed-upon steps and clear criteria for valuing the business and buying out a partner. And it’s best to create this agreement at the beginning of the relationship in case things do change.

A successful business partnership can bring many other intangible benefits to the table, too: a bigger network, a diversity of perspective, a different way of thinking or solving problems. And, perhaps most important, someone to keep you from feeling alone in the journey. Those benefits don’t come without putting a thoughtful effort into the relationship, but after 18 years, I can confidently say that the effort pays off in the long run.

Chris Cardinal is a founding principal of Synapse Studios, a growing app consultancy that builds custom software for startups, enterprises, government, and just about anyone else. Chris founded the company with his partner in 2003 and has since grown it into a firm of over 50 employees in downtown Tempe, Arizona.

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How Your Friends Determine Whether You Succeed or Not

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Can anyone do without having friends? We all have our friends, we share ideas with them, talk together, have fun, and fight. Yes, that’s the baseline of friendship. But, do you know that aside from you, your friends can determine whether you achieve success or not?

There are two things in friendship which are the ability to ”love” and the ability to “influence”. This means you are loved and you are influenced. How do your friends affect your success in life? How are they one of the biggest deciding factors of your success? Let’s find out.

What type of friends do you keep? 

First, what type of friends do you keep? Who do you call your best friend? There are two different kinds of friends, good friends, and bad ones. A lot of people have lost their pathway to success and some have also found their road to success all because of the friends they keep, the people they mingle with. 

Who is your best friend? Answer carefully. Having a best friend means you find each other compatible and understanding. Analyze who your best friend is. If your best friend has not motivated you to do something positive, if who you call your bestie has never given you positive advice, lastly if your best friend has never informed and advised you on your shortcomings, then you don’t have a best friend.

This quote tells us “birds of the same feather flock together”. Countless people have changed from their good nature into a bad one all because of friends. One thing to note is, “negative people move with negative aura”. If your best friend is filled with negativity inside-out then you will surely be affected by his/her negative aura.

They influence your success with positivity or negativity 

The friends you keep can either influence you with positivity or negativity because your friends have the power to change your kind of person completely. 

This is how your friends influence you:

  1. They influence you indirectly with what they do
  2. They influence you directly by teaching and giving you advice 

Yes, that is how they influence you. For instance, you watch a movie and you like the way the actor walks. The question is if you truly like the way the actor walks, won’t you try to imitate the actor? Of course, you will.

Just the way you imitate the actor is the same way your friends can influence you with their character. However, the funny part is, they don’t have to teach you to do things like them. You just find yourself imitating and copying them gradually.

An important question to ask is, are you imitating a good friend or a bad one? If you imitate a good friend then you will be good, but if you imitate a bad person, you will surely become a bad person.

Everyone wants to succeed, a good friend will always teach, enlighten, and motivate you for success. A bad friend will only motivate you to do evil things (smoking, drinking, fight, envy,).

And you should know that things like that are a great enemy of success and even of God. So, if you have these bad elements in your life, how will you achieve success? There is no way!

And also, they can teach and advise you directly. But, what do your friends teach you? When you ask them for advice do they inspire you positively or teach you the bad stuff.? A lot of people have regretted lifelong decisions just by listening to the advice of friends. 

The company you keep has the power to influence and change you. Never forget that a positive influence will teach, motivate, and brush you up for success. While a negative influence will inspire you to become a bad person, change your good nature, and leave you with regrets in the end.

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The 3 Step Process to Building a Profitable Pitch

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As a communication coach, one of the top questions entrepreneurs ask me is how to deliver a winning pitch to potential investors. They want to know if there’s a magic formula to get an investor to say yes and buy into their dream and their business. (more…)

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The 4 Pillars of Wealth and Abundance

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Have you ever wondered what the formula for a wealthy and abundant life is? Many people have. Lots has been written about the subject of wealth creation and living an abundant life. It was a breaking point in my journey and pursuit of success when I found out that there is a clear path to achieve success in life. Thanks to those who have shared their journey, we can clearly see and follow the principles of prosperity. (more…)

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Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Podcast, Youtube Channel or Online Show

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Confidence comes from a place of strong understanding of self. After close to three years on radio, I’ve grown from a shy introvert to a shy introvert with an extrovert persona. When the mic is turned on, I can channel a version of myself that some say is attractive, strong, and of course, confident but it wasn’t always this way.

What I want to share with you is what I discovered on this journey into broadcast that you can apply to your life, your ventures, and your personal development. This doesn’t require any fancy gear. It does require a leap of faith on your part because once you go down the road of media; it can change your life.

1. Perceived Expertise

When you go to a doctor, you expect their knowledge will guide them to a solution to your problems. When you have a show, you become your listeners’ doctor. For all the multiple thousands, maybe millions, of YouTube channels, podcasts, and user-created content in the world, each person that gets behind a mic takes a position on their passion, their opinions, and their themes.

They challenge the status quo for the benefit of their listeners in hopes to entertain and educate. With consistency on your side, those fans place you on a platform and give you permission to influence them.

2. Global Acknowledgement

One of the benefits to increasing confidence is when you receive thank you notes from people you may never meet. The feeling of enriching someone’s life from halfway around the globe, provides validation you’re enhancing someone else’s life with your wisdom and your wit.

The very first time I was told I was making a difference in someone’s life in a country other than my own, I felt like I caused massive impact that transcends my circle of influence. When you experience just how much you can cause impact and it comes back to you, it’ll change your worldview.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Backed By Numbers

One of the most exciting ways to measure success is to quantify your growth. It’s not enough to just broadcast. Having subscribers and downloads helps to know, numerically, how well you’re doing. Word of caution. This can be a way to set yourself up for distress because of number envy but if you understand what the numbers mean; you can control the narrative of the numbers.

The major number that makes most people smile is 10,000. I’d advise it to be 1. Here’s why. As you grow in your industry, so does your reach. If you learned that the one person that subscribed totally changed for the better because of you, wouldn’t that be worth the effort?

4. Effective Communication

While it’s not talked about much, having a show is documentation. You create a dynamic account of your life, your industry, and the pulse on what’s important simply by having a show. When you find a channel to improve your communication skills, you demand attention and people will listen to you. You become more trusted as a leader and people will follow you once they believe you can lead them to their wants and needs.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

These insights have helped many people become leaders and, ultimately, move others to their best selves. It’s worked for me and I hope it works for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about showing up and showing out.

Have you ever thought about having a radio show? If so, what would you talk about? Let us below!

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