James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today, I have my special guest, John Lint. Welcome back!
John: Hey, what’s up everybody? How are you?
James: John, we’re chatting all the time. You run 10XPRO.io. I’m a huge fan of your software. We got to know each other over many years. You came along to the Maldives event year after year. So, I figured you either like surfing or you just want to talk about online business, or both. And, eventually, we found ourselves in somewhat of a partnership where you have the world’s best software platform for building funnels and creating courses and putting memberships online, negating the need to have all the tools that most people stitch together. You don’t need WordPress, you don’t need LearnDash, you don’t need a Kartra, you don’t need ClickFunnels, all the things you don’t need. You just need 10XPRO.io. And you need a CRM system like ActiveCampaign, Ontraport, Infusionsoft and MailChimp. And the list goes on.
But over the years, we’ve formed this partnership, and we’ve learned a lot about how they work. And it made me reflect on some of the partnerships I made over 10 years ago when I started online, and what was different about then and now, and I thought that’d be a great topic for us to talk about today.
John: Yeah, I mean, awesome! I think we both had some really interesting experiences, and yeah, should be a good topic.
James: So when I think about some of the partnerships I had in the past, I know when I was coming online for the first time, I think I partnered a bit too quickly with some people. And they were always 50/50 deals. I had one with a software guy, I had one with a membership, I had one with an acting coach, and the list goes on. And most of them didn’t last. One of them lasted four years. But in the end, the reason that didn’t work out is, it became a little bit lopsided where the idea was we do half each, but the reality was, I ended up doing a little bit more. In fact, a lot more than half and I wanted to recalibrate it.
And over the years, I’ve found probably I went into those partnerships a bit early because I was kind of hoping the other person would pull their weight, or at least match me. I actually work in a different rate to almost everyone else. I’d love it if you could reflect on some of your early partnerships because I know you had a couple that worked out and maybe some that didn’t. To get to the point where we’ve had a partnership, and then we’ll talk about how our partnership works in a way that suits both of us.
John: Yeah, for sure. I mean, for me, it was kind of similar as well, from what you said. I went into partnerships, probably thinking back, probably a bit too fast, hoping that everybody was going to do its share and take care of their responsibility. The reason why we work so well is that we are always on the same wavelength. And we have the same work ethic, we take our time and we enjoy life. But also we are kind of workhorses when we need to.
And I felt you know, in the past, you think, okay, it’s going to be 50/50, it’s a no-brainer, let’s go for it. And because you hope that there’s not going to be any conflict at the beginning, right? You just want them to get the deal done. So okay, yeah, let’s do 50/50, no problem. It’s actually a mistake, right? And the time when you want to have conflict with your partnership is at the very beginning. You want to have those many discussions that you don’t want to have at the end, especially at the beginning. So okay, what should we do when things don’t work out? Or hey, what happens if you start hating me?
These are the conversations you want to have while you’re still in that honeymoon phase. While everybody still love each other, you want to have those hard conversations. Obviously, you kind of want to have all these things in writing. Because when things turn bad, that’s when there is no communication at all. The things go really bad, pretty much no room to make some kind of agreement of things like that, right? So that’s just a little side tip. If you’re thinking about going to a partnership, then get those transparent conversations from the get-go.
We talked about 50/50. It’s probably not going to be 50/50. It really depends on who is going to do what and then you need to structure your deal in that way. So yes, I did some 50/50s. I felt that after a few years that I was doing way more than 50/50. Things that I shouldn’t be doing at all, then it just creates that new resentment where you think what is this other guy doing? If you start having that in that relationship, it’s a bad sign, then you start questioning everything. And usually, things go downhill from there.
I mean, that’s definitely something that did happen to me in the past. So yeah, that would be my experience, I don’t think you need to go into a 50/50 specifically. Go with something that is fair for everybody based on the inputs that they are going to have in the business.
James: Yeah, look, the thing with 50/50 is they’re really easy to say. And they sound simple, we’ll just do half each and we’ll split the cost. But then the ambiguity comes in. That’s the really crazy stuff. And I’ve been coaching a couple of my students through some revenue share deals at the moment. We’ve moved them out of 50/50 deals and into a revenue share deal, which is much simpler and easier. Because I say, okay, you’re on a 50/50 deal and you’re sharing the sales minus the cost.
What happens when you go to a conference internationally? Who’s paying for the airfare? What about the dinner? What about the hotel accommodation? What about if they buy a new suit, or a laptop for the business, you know? It’s really easy to start blurring the line with costs. And almost every business owner, certainly not me or you, John, but most business owners run their living costs through the business, it’s a very common practice. And if you have a 50/50 partner, they might start helping themselves to that little tax deduction, the partner tax. So it can be super ambiguous.
One way to clarify this and make it much easier, and the way I like to do things, is let one person own the business. Let them be the director, let them own all the stock in the shares, let them own all the assets – the domain name, the customers and everything. And then just take a small percentage of revenue, because the revenue number is the easiest number to track. It runs through the cart. Of course, you make an allowance for any refunds, or cancellations because that’s reverse revenue, it nets out and just take a small percentage of that.
Now, you can do this two ways, you could either be the person with the business giving someone else, the partner, a percentage of revenue. Or you could be the person getting the small percentage of revenue and helping someone on their business. If you have a nice, good agreement, it gets discussed upfront and it covers every scenario from if you don’t want to work together anymore, or if you want to buy it out, or it ends or someone passes away and all these things, they can be covered in a very simple agreement. Even down to which jurisdiction are we talking about, what is the process for sending correspondence, what happens if someone stops doing the thing they’re supposed to do? It’s all spelled out that way your partnership is crystallized upfront.
And what I like about this is, it’s being realistic about who’s doing what. In the case of our partnership, you’re the software genius, you’ve got the marketing ability and the technical ability to put together a program that I know I’m not going to put together. I’ve tried software before. I found it quite difficult. And it’s not within my perfect skill set. But what I do love doing is I do love talking about business, I do like running events, I do like podcasting, I like blog posting and sharing stuff across social media, I love connecting people, and getting early adapters and exciting people about new technology. And I’m a trusted source when it comes to my community of what tools are working, which is why someone like you who’s a specialist at the software that I’m not going to build can partner with someone like me, who’s got the community and the audience that you don’t have the time to build. And we come together and we make a beautiful thing happen.
And since you and I have been talking about 10XPRO, the user base has started to skyrocket. And now it’s becoming an interchangeable term in those online forums and Facebook groups. When you hear of ClickFunnels or Kartra, or LearnDash, you’re now hearing 10XPRO along in the conversation. And when people discover just how good the platform is, away it goes. And we both benefit because we’re doing the part that we’re good at.
And from my point of view, I love that it’s your business. And I want you to always be making more than I am out of the deal because it’s your baby, and I let you run with that. And you know, you can never be threatened by what I’m doing. My goal is to build an armor of customers and to build awareness out in the marketplace, and to keep supporting the program and coaching the people who use the platform so that they succeed. And you’ll see we’re popping out case study after case study on the SuperFastBusiness platform of 10XPRO user who’s succeeding where they failed before, where they couldn’t put it together. They couldn’t get the good advice, they couldn’t get the right tools, or it’s just outside their reach. And now I actually love it. I feel good when we come together talking about this program. And I love seeing people succeed. And you can see how this partnership is working well and will continue.
John: Yeah, I mean, it’s all about complementing each other where I am strong and where you are strong and helping each other out. You said something that was very important, and especially for content creators or creators and entrepreneurs who maybe you create a software or you created a brand or solution, and you’re going to partner with someone.
And I think the issue of ownership is a big deal. It’s a big deal in the sense that not just because okay, you’re going to give me 50% and people think usually Oh, that’s 50% of the sales. That’s one part. But if you give 50% and you’re giving 50% of the business, you’re pretty much giving 50% of the decision-making. And that is a big deal.
James: That’s a huge one. Like, before I go and make any changes to my community, I’d have to check in with my partner like, hey, I want to change the price, or I think we should change the funnel, and then go into an agenda and we’d have to meet. These days I make changes at the drop of a hat and roll it out into Slack and it’s done by within an hour. And no one’s involved in that except for me, and that’s beautiful.
John: Exactly. Yeah. And you know, I think about a feature, I want that feature for 10XPRO, talk to the team, we get it done, boom, talk to the customers, everybody’s happy. I don’t have to consult with anybody, I don’t have to listen to the input of someone. Imagine you’re in a rock band, you are the guitar player, you don’t want to listen to the guy who’s changing the lights. I mean, no disrespect, everyone has his job, but you’re the content creator, you’re creating that masterpiece, that is your baby, it’s your thing. If you want to paint the walls green, because you decided, because it’s part of your crazy idea, you do it. You don’t have to check with anybody else. It’s very, very important. That is the type of thing that drove me nuts in the past.
If you are the creator, a part of the business and you think about partnering with somebody, for me, that is the most important thing. Like I see those stories where the guy creates a software then they want to go public. And what happens when they go public, then you have thousands of shareholders giving their input. This is how the software should be, this is how you should do it, then you have the board of directors, guys who are sitting there, they know nothing about your core idea. I’m a gamer, I’m a tech guy, I see all these things.
And I see all these studios that were creating masterpieces, great stuff. And then they became public. And then they wanted more money and they wanted external money. That means you’re losing control. For me, control is the most important thing and retain control, work with someone who is awesome. And then do that partnership where everybody’s benefiting, everybody’s happy and where everything is laid out at the beginning. Because like I said, if you can’t make the deal at the very, very beginning, there’s no chance you’ll be able to solve anything later. Forget about it.
James: And the best deal is one that after you sign it, you put it away in the top drawer, and you never have to pull it out again. It’s a simple deal. Everyone knows where they stand, who controls what and don’t be afraid. If you’re good at what you do, don’t be afraid to have a performance-based partnership where you both succeed if it goes well. And neither of you succeeds if it goes poorly. Like you don’t have to do a lopsided deal like the old retainer agency model where the agency always gets paid whether the customer makes a profit or not.
You know, that’s why I’m moving more of my deals across. I recently changed SilverCircle to focus more on revenue share deals and less on straight coaching because I get results. And if I get results why not be an upside profit partner in these deals. So the main takeaway from today is, if you’re doing 50/50 deals, stop. And think about if that’s really the best kind of deal you can make. Go along and have a listen to the introduction to revenue share deals episode on SuperFastBusiness.com. I recorded with Charley Valher, who’s another partner of mine in a business venture.
Ask me questions wherever this video is, make a comment. If you’ve got a question about 10XPRO or memberships or courses, ask John Lint. He’s the best expert in the world. That’s why I wanted to do business with him because he’s a gun. And anyway, John, always great to catch up. I’m so passionate about this as you are. And thank you for being such a great partner into our success, buddy.
John: Thank you, man.
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