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Show Highlights

Graham and Ashkahn talk from their (admittedly very biased) perspectives on the merits and flaws of getting involved with a business partner for a float center. Most of the things they talk about are just universal truths for starting any startup. Realistically, it’s going to have a major impact on your workload, your decision making, your investments, and even your free time.

It’s worked out well for these two, but the reality is that sometimes having a business partner is a lot like being married. How do you find the right person? How do you handle disagreements? It can be one of the most daunting, and rewarding decisions to make when starting up.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: We have a good question for you today. It is, “Do you need to have a business partner in order to start a float tank center?

Ashkahn: Oh. That is a good question.

Graham: The answer is, no you don’t need one.

Ashkahn: Yeah, I would say having a business partner is among the worst decisions.

Graham: You might end up doing a podcast every single day with your partner. It’s very demanding.

Ashkahn: Yeah. Like a living Hell is really the best phrase to wrap it all up.

Graham: We can say that three lawyers and five counselors later… No, okay.

The actual answer to your question is applicable not just to float tank centers, too, which is just in general. If you’re able to get a good business partner, and that’s the key, if you can get a good one, then having a business partner is absolutely a great decision. There is so many things in business, including ridiculously late nights, ridiculously long hours.

In the float center industry, floats breaking in the middle of the night, different things like that, where you’re just there banging your head against a wall. Even if someone else isn’t helping you, at least having someone standing next to you banging their head against the same wall is so comforting. I can’t even imaging going through some of the stuff we’ve struggled through alone.

Ashkahn: Commiserating, I think, is the word here.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: It’s interesting. Whenever I get this question, I feel like I should preface it with the fact that I’m a pretty extroverted person. You’re a pretty extroverted person. We like social situation, doing things with other people. That’s just the perspective I have. I enjoy things more when there’s other people around, or I’m doing something with someone. I don’t know. Maybe if you’re super introverted and you’re not into that, it’s not something that sounds like a good idea to you.

Even with that aside, just the very practical nature of having not everything … There’s just a lot of emergencies that come up. Being able to be able to go out of town or to just realize you’re not the only person who has to always be on call. Even if you are both going to handle something, that there’s two of you there is really nice. I personally find it to be a way, way more enjoyable way to run a business.

Graham: You’ll see that, too, even down to what investors look for. They look for good business partners who work well together in a venture. It’s because they know how hard it is to run something just by yourself. This isn’t, again, just float tank advice, this is very general business start-up advice is, if possible, definitely having a founder is the way to go.

Ashkahn: I also just find it really useful to bounce ideas off somebody. To me, it’s so much easier to talk something out.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: Right? You get to a solution so much faster than when you do just trying to think through something in your head.

Graham: At least then you’re sharing the blame, too, if it goes horribly wrong. There’s one or two other people who agreed that this sounded like a good idea.

Ashkahn: We all decided to knock this wall out, and here we are.

Graham: Yeah. When you crash and burn, there’s a little less personal guilt. There’s something that goes on it, too.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: The flip side, though, is it’s also like getting married. It’s like asking, “Hey, should I get into a great marriage?”

“Yeah, probably. That sounds excellent,” right? But, there are a lot of marriages that go south and end in divorce.

Ashkahn: It’s like getting married and immediately having a child.

Graham: Right. Yeah. If you’re already starting a float center and you’re looking for a partner, that’s like being pregnant and looking for the father. Which is probably the wrong time, or at least a very desperate time to be searching for that business partner.

Again, it truly is like a marriage, in a sense that you’ll be sharing financial information. You can fire employees. You can’t fire a business partner.

Ashkahn: They’re hard to get out of.

Graham: They’re in it until you pay them a lot of money to get out of the business if you don’t want them to be there.

Ashkahn: Yeah. And, you’ll probably spend more time with them than you will with your real spouse.

Graham: Or, your real children. Yeah.

Ashkahn: It’s pretty serious.

Graham: Take your time. Again, the right time to be looking for business partners is a year before you’re starting. Ideally, you’ve known the person who is going to be your partner for longer than that, as well.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: You’ve had time to vet them out, and make sure you get along, and things like that, too.

Ashkahn: Here’s a question.

Graham: Only one question per episode, Kahn.

Ashkahn: Okay, well I didn’t get my question yet. Here’s my question for this episode. This is the follow-up I get asked a lot. How do you choose a good business partner? How do you know who would be a good business partner?

Graham: Yep, yep. I guess a little bit, it depends on your goal. There’s a few different goals in starting a float center. One is to franchise, and spread out, and create all of these different businesses, and make a lot of money running this chain of float tank centers.

Another one is to have more of a lifestyle business. And, have something that is a business that you feel happy working in and attending to, and so does your partner.

There’s also situations where you have enough money to fund it. What you want is an operational partner. Versus, you don’t have enough money, and you’re actually looking for an investor or some kind of financial partner.

All of these, I would say, yield different answers to that question of what are you looking for in a partner, or how do you find a good one?

Ashkahn: Yeah. I guess, one of the points in there is make sure you have the same goals, right?

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: If you’re going in to operate a lifestyle business, and the other person is going to turn this into a mega multi-city floatopolis, you’re going to come into conflict pretty fast there.

Graham: Yep, absolutely. I would say, also look at, even if you’re doing this with friends or people you’ve known for a while, look at people’s past actions. Don’t listen as much to what they’re telling you you guys are going to do together in your new business. It’s really easy to get excited when you’re starting a float center, and talk about all the marketing you’re going to do, and people you’re going to bring in, and stuff like that.

If you’re actually seriously vetting someone who you’d like to go in on this float center with, find out what they’ve done in the past. What are the big projects that they’ve successfully pulled off. How did those go? Were they working with people? It’s almost like sizing up contractors, or something like that.

I was just picturing, actually, getting a spouse through this same method. I’m like, “Can I see your references before we start dating, please? This sounds great. Okay, Sam, from …” Yeah.

Talk to people who have done projects with them that are on the same scale. Find out if they’ve even done something that is on the same scale. A lot of people, this will be the single biggest thing that they’ve launched into with their lives.

Ashkahn: Yeah. There is always a certain amount of going with your gut involved, too, right?

Graham: Yep.

Ashkahn: Like getting married, I think there’s a certain intangible quality to exactly what you’re looking for, exactly what makes something work well and what doesn’t.

I guess one thing that always sticks out to me about what I feel works well with us, our partners at Float On, is whenever we have a problem to figure out or something to solve, I always feel like we start pretty much on the same page as the other. Or, close to the same page as each other. It takes us just a few minutes to really all get on the same page. Then move forward from there.

I haven’t found that working with a ton of other people. Sometimes I’ll work with people, and I’ll spend hours just trying to reconcile our ideas with each other, and just get to mutual ground. To me, that’s a sign of someone who probably wouldn’t be a good long-term business partner, because it’s just so much work to get to a place to even start solving the problem.

To me, that’s a sign of what works well for us. Because, so much of it is problem solving. I feel like half of what we’re doing is just someone being like, “This is happening.”

It’s like, “Okay, well, we got to figure out what to do now to solve the fact that that is happening.” It’s mostly what running a business is.

Graham: Yeah. Again ideally, totally. You’d have a business partner or a couple business partners, or if you’re like Float On, 20 business partners when you start up, or something like that. We’re definitely on the extreme side of things. I think we actually have five business partners, just for the record out there.

What else? Same thing said, use caution. Be careful when you’re getting into it.

Ashkahn: I think it’s worth it. Personally, for me and my life, I couldn’t have imagined doing this without a business partner.

Graham: Oh, there is so many times when I’ve looked at Jake and Ashkahn and just said, “I have no idea what I would have done without you guys around.”

Ashkahn: Yeah. You’re definitely getting our bias and perspective in on it. Yeah. I just don’t even think I could have done it alone, or would have been able to quite pull it off. Or, would have really enjoyed it nearly as much.

Graham: Yeah. Don’t rush into things. Take your time. Keep in mind, it’s one of those things where, despite your best efforts and intentions, things can go wrong. If it were easy to pick the best business partner that would match you for your float center-

Ashkahn: Yeah. Nobody would be getting divorced.

Graham: Nobody would be getting divorced. There’s your answer for today.

Ashkahn: All right. If you guys have other questions, you can always hop over to FloatTankSolutions.com/podcast. We will talk to you tomorrow.

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