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  • Greg York

Episode 6: Studio Fit Chicago / Expand Your Community

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

This was one of our hardest episodes in the studio. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to present Reyna's challenge of reaching a broader demographic. Ultimately, we decided to focus on two themes for this week's show: working with a business partner and growing your community.


This post is a companion to Episode 6 of Appreciation Nation, which you can find in our archive or your favorite podcast app.

Reyna Hoerdeman of Studio Fit Chicago

Getting started in a new business alongside a business partner has great potential benefits, but, as Reyna told us, "Be careful who you go into business with." We spent a lot of time as we researched this episode gathering best practices and presenting them through the lens of our own personal experience working with multiple business partners over more than a decade. We shared it in the podcast, and it's transcribed below.


Appreciation Nation's Business Partner Working Guidelines

  • Share the same values. Don’t bother with the business plan if you don’t share the same core values, goals and work ethic.

  1. Sit down together for a few hours and paint a picture of the future, tell each other what success means to you and describe how you’d personally like to work toward it

  2. Search for “list of values” in Google, and you’ll come up with word lists that you can go through item by item to understand what’s important to each other and where you align. You won’t align everywhere, but the most important values should be identified and discussed openly. Use these as the basis for creating your joint business mission statement.

  • Choose a partner with complementary skills. Try using the CliftonStrengths assessment or another objective source to determine what each of you are good at. Overlap is fine, but your best work will be done alongside someone who can shore you up and who you can support as well. Spending a little time to do this will pay dividends as you get into the task of clarifying your roles in the business. Don’t do this too informally though or just throw out a couple of things you think you’re good at. Do something a little more rigorous and objective to figure out what your strengths and skills are.

  • Have a track record together. You don’t have to have run a business together before, but try to pair up with someone who you’ve settled disagreements with before, survived tough times with and achieved common goals. If you have no idea whether you can survive conflict with a potential business partner, don’t go into business together.

  • Document roles and responsibilities. In the early stages, everyone just pulls up their sleeves and gets it done, but that won’t work long term. Settle on meaningful titles and document your duties, making sure that you can estimate the amount of time you’ll each spend on the business and that the equity you’re contributing is fair. This should all be written down.

  • Get your business structure right. Partnership, limited liability, C corp, S corp... Talk with your attorney and tax adviser about what you’re going to do, and set it up right from the start.

  • Write up your business ‘dis’ agreement. The words you’ll consult about how to operate when you’re not getting along. Write up the legal documents about your structure, capital contributions, decision making and dispute resolution. Know how a partner can leave the business. An attorney can help with this, but if your business is simple enough, there are low-cost templates to help guide you through the process. It definitely needs to be written down though.

  • Be honest with each other. You both need to be free and clear to share your feelings about how things are working and what’s going on in your lives. Burying issues or concerns only allows a small problem to grow into a big one. It seems simple enough, but make a pact that you’ll listen to each other and be open to sharing what you really think and feel.

When it comes to growing community and reaching new demographics, we boiled this week's Challenge down to something simple to try to practice. At the same time, we gathered up some great ideas for how to be your best self (as an individual or an individual representing your business) in social environments in order to reach new people and make new connections.

Appreciation Nation's Best Practices for Expanding Your Network and Community

  1. Connect with "connectors." Identify people who are very connected and link yourself to them.

  2. Meet new people constantly. Go to trade shows, galas, cultural events, charity events, seminars, talks. Exchange contact information with people you meet.

  3. Be a giver. This is a big one! When you meet new people, practice empathy by imagining the world through their eyes. This can lead to a deeper connection and greater sharing. You cannot be all about yourself. If people think you’re a ‘taker,’ or that you’re looking for an angle, you won’t connect. Be a giver by being present and really listening, sharing genuine moments of connection and conversation or by sharing your connections with others. There's a lot you can give when you make the conversation about them and not about you.

  4. Commit to a local community. Communities exist out there already that meet up on a regular basis (at least once a month). Join that group and then volunteer to help out.

  5. Reach out to people regularly. Start a weekly ritual where you carve out time to connect with people you’ve not spoken with in a while. Consider doing it midweek, when you might be able to still make plans to get together over the weekend.

  6. Know who you’re trying to reach ahead of time. If this is about you personally, understand what qualities you’re looking for in friendships. If it’s about your business, be clear in who the people are that connection will be authentic and mesh well with your existing community.

Appreciation Nation Challenge (ANC) #6: Grow Your Network

The rules:

  1. Attend. Find and attend a social event that makes you just a little uncomfortable: an industry networking event, a community gala or fundraiser, or some other group meeting where you are likely to meet people you're trying to reach.

  2. Be a Giver. Listen, ask questions and engage without making the conversation about you. See if there's an opportunity to connect a person you meet with someone else you know.

  3. Exchange. Share contact information with one new person, and then follow up to bring that person into your social network.

As always, please share your Challenge experience with the kula by joining the Facebook group at https://facebook.com/groups/anchallenge.


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