0:00 - Intro
0:48 - Our first customers
6:30 - Figuring out the business
16:37 - Splitting our income 💰
21:06 - Gelt
23:39 - Can we be 50/50?
25:59 - Executer vs. Idea person
30:37 - Scaling or staying content?
35:47 - Setting Boundaries
37:01 - Playing to our strengths
42:00 - Work-life balance
47:56 - What motivates us to work
51:41 - If we broke up…?
53:46 - Sneak peeks
Andra Vomir: If I'm going to come on board, we need to expand the service offering.
Alex Bass: We were talking, having conversations of like splitting the business in half. This was like the thing that I was building for the past decade. I did not at that point want to have a business partner. Really? I think I just realized this understanding between the two of us like has helped so much. Like I, I don't feel like I'm like walking on eggshells. You were like,
Andra: it doesn't make sense to work separately. Like I think we have like something really great here. It was like, yeah, let's do this. Do you remember what you said to me?
Alex: No. Thanks to GELT for sponsoring this episode, but more on that later.
Andra: What has to change?
Alex: I have to leave.
Andra: Okay, I don't even know what's happening. Okay. Okay So today we are talking about working with your spouse I think when people find out that we work together. Well, actually i'm gonna ask you what's the reaction you typically get?
Alex: Oh gosh sometimes people there's no reaction or there is like an It's almost like a oh How like how does that work or like Is that, like, does that work? It's very, it's very much like, uh, it, that probably doesn't work. Does that work? How does that work? So,
Andra: curiosity. Yeah.
Alex: Okay. And skepticism. Skepticism. Because they've thought about it. You can tell they've, like, thought about the idea themselves, and they're like, no, this wouldn't work.
Andra: Yeah. I think a lot of people say, I can never do that, and I mean, I understand. Yeah. Like, we're definitely not here to say it's for everybody, but it's definitely for some people, and I think for us, it works really well. Okay. Okay. So. I guess, let's start back to you were a sole proprietor, right? Is that what it's called? No? Okay.
Alex: Uh, I started a corporation out of the gate. Okay. So.
Andra: You were, you were a solo business owner. Yeah. You started off your business in a partnership, then you worked on your own for the majority of your business.
Yeah. And I have had my own business, I've had business partners as well. And then we came together in this partnership with Efficient App. Yes. So before I joined, your company was called Cyberbytes. Yep. And I remember meeting you and seeing your website and it was like very technical and it was like red, black, and gray.
And I remember being like, I mean, I'm more of a marketer and It must be working. Yeah. His business is doing well. Yeah. So I'm not here to say anything about it. Um, but then through our relationship and through. us living together and meeting. We did want to dabble in trying to work together and we took on a few clients as like on a testing basis.
Yeah. So the first one that we took on, I remember it was a company, this is going to be beeped out, but it was
Alex: Oh, yes. Okay. It's, it's helpful knowing the name because yeah, my brain wasn't going there. Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. Yeah.
Andra: So we did, that was our first sales call together. I remember being really nervous because when you jump on a sales call with someone, you don't really know where like they end and you should begin, especially since it was more your business.
I didn't really know where I, could supplement. And to my surprise, I actually felt like you really kind of stepped aside and you let me lead more of the sales call, even though it was your business. But I totally got what the client was asking for. He wanted like some automated emails. He wanted to automate his lead process, which is something like.
We, it's bread and butter. We do it. So we totally got it. And then we put together the scope of work in terms of conditions. And that client came back and they wanted like their legal team to review our T's and C's. And they were just like being
Alex: difficult to work with. They were sending over like updated T's and C's of their own.
Like, and they're like, please review our T's and C's. And it's like, wait, what is going on? Like they were, they were introducing so much complexity. It was, it was a relatively small. deal because we were trying to just test working together. The point of this in a way was like, let's see what working together is like and less about let's make, you know, money from this in a sense.
So they were also kind of getting a good deal, but then they just started putting all this stuff in extra, extra legal.
Andra: And we were even open to the idea of getting like a lawyer to revise our T's and C's at the time, which is something we are not open to. Now, at this point of our business, because we're really familiar with how we work.
But at that point, since things were like changing and we were like, let's get a lawyer to take a look at it. But there was so much back and forth that it didn't even make sense to move forward with that client anymore. Yeah. So yeah, that was, I guess, a flop, failure, whatever, doesn't make, can't really say failure, but it didn't work out.
And then the next client that we took on was Yeah. And that was more of a marketing heavy project and with that it was gonna be more on my turf to get work done. And I remember you said, like, how much do you want to, like, come join this project? And at the time it was like, well, I want 10K. Yeah. And I was like, how much do you want to be involved?
Alex: I was like, I don't feel like there's much that I need to do with it. It was very much more in your court. And I was like, I, obviously there's gonna be a little bit of communication where I'm probably gonna have to like be on maybe some calls or talk with you through some things, but for the most part, it was fully in your court, so I was like, I don't know, a couple grand, a few grand.
Andra: Yeah. Yeah. So, put together that scope of work and that client moved ahead. Yeah. And that was like the first time we actually had a new client on that wasn't like previously my client that we were collaborating on or yours, it was like something that we were really doing.
Alex: Like it was clear on what, who was doing.
And what money each person is getting.
Andra: Yeah. And I think that's like kind of a learning that. We got really quickly because it was like nice to have that delineation and to be communicative up front and to take it on as a test project because I think with partnerships too many people like jump in so fast and early and everything's 50 50 where you don't really understand like where each person's strengths lie and most of the time like yeah.
Work's going to fall more in one person's court rather than it just totally being cut and dry 50 50. So that was like another test project and then I don't even remember what we took on after that, but it was like other little ones like that. And at the time you Your business was more just doing like cut and dry integration.
So if you had a CRM and you had your QuickBooks online and somebody wanted to connect those two pieces of software, you would be like, I will connect it for you. But the problem with that was that so many people, when they come to you and they want to build an integration, is that they don't actually have the process fully.
mapped out. So the more that you're asking them questions about how you want the integration to work, sometimes you're seeing that they actually need a lot of work with their process.
Alex: Or the integration that they think they need is not the problem. Like something, the, some infrastructure needs to be built first before that could even happen.
So it kept coming back to the like, I need to do more to get here, but I don't want to do more to get here. Cause the first I don't know, seven, eight years in business was me doing like the full thing. And it's, there's a lot of work involved on your own to be the integration person, but also the process person and the salesperson and the admin person and all the things.
So I was just like burned out of that. And I'm like, I just want to focus on integration now. And then that's where you were able to help with. Not just doing the
Andra: integration. Yeah. And I think that's where, when we actually had the conversation about working together and I was like, I need to figure out if I want to like double down on growing my own business, also having like this impeding green card that's coming my way where I couldn't work in the States and had that on my mind.
And then do you remember what you said to me? No. Okay. You, you were like. It doesn't make sense for us to work separately and for you to double down on a separate business when we have like so many aligned strengths. Yeah. Like, why don't you come work with me full time and double down on Efficient Up? I think we have like something really great here.
Alex: Yeah, I mean, we were doing little supplemental things where I think like what you're saying, we were kind of rebranding efficient app a bit and actually investing in a little bit of the, I think there's a point where you were just like, we were building a new website and this whole conversation came up where you were just, where I was like, this is actually super helpful talking through the copy and figuring out what in a way.
Is being sold and you were like, Oh, I just figured like the cyber bytes copy was working for you. It was technical and whatever. And I'm like, I don't think it's been working for me. It's just been there. And I haven't thought much about it. So we had started almost building the business together a little bit.
And I started realizing like, Oh, you there's so much more in the marketing and sales side of things that you can help in that we can grow this business to be larger. So why are you trying to sell customers in this marketing area? And, and why am I doing this integration stuff on my own and also saying no to a lot of work?
Like, it didn't make sense. There was like, there was a way that we can leverage that to make more together.
Andra: Yeah. I remember like, even meeting you and you telling me what you did and how you worked and your business has like, the best processes, obviously, like, with what we do. You had like, the best software in place and the integrations and I was like, you're so marketable.
Yeah. Like, you're so sellable. I was like, I just want to like, sell your services. Yeah. Yeah. I also. I don't like being the type of person that like comes in on a high horse from out of nowhere and like tells people how to like run their own business. I feel like there's just so many people that do that.
So I remember being like, I don't want to overstep, but I just like see an opportunity here. And yeah, you were totally open to it. Yeah. So then we had the conversation, same on that bench in Presidio about, well, if I'm going to come on board, we need to expand the service offering. Because what I saw with Efficient App was that you were just offering these integrations, but companies needed so much more.
They needed like a full cohesive solution. It's like, How do you get your leads and what happens from your lead to the sale closing to the onboarding experience with your company? And we saw that there's like a lot of gaps in a typical business, but it's just so much work for us to like learn a business's processes to go to that level of depth.
Yeah. So that led to us being like, well, how can we do that? And that led to a conversation about increasing our prices only to really support. The larger scale of work that we were
Alex: taking on. Yeah, I mean, the what I was doing for a long time that I kind of built up was the idea of like a discovery phase and charging, you know, initially I charged a thousand for it and that was essentially like versus doing free discovery.
I'm going to charge for discovery, which is kind of like, show me some of your internal systems. We'll kind of map out a little bit of what could be done and then you can decide, then we can put together a scope of work and then if you want to move forward. We'll like take off the money of the discovery from the actual project.
And then I, of course, gotten to a point where we're like, that's actually a lot of work. So I need to raise that from a thousand and did it like 2000. And then maybe it was like 2500. And I think it was this whole kind of weird area where I think we both agreed that we also don't want to be in the business of selling this piece because even investing the brainpower to go in and, and understand someone's business and map all this out.
That's a service that people, that's actually quite valuable. And it's not worth it. It's worth way more than 2, 500, for example. So I think the thing that we're talking about, it's like, how do we package this up more and be a little bit more clear on the deliverables of what this is and maybe even give a little bit of like Um, yeah, like a deliverable in terms of maybe setting up some of the CRM or something of that source.
So this is level of maybe it's a little bit more than just discovery, but we need to charge way more for it. And I think we were like, was it what we'll do like 8 grand just intro offer, like, just get a customer together and see
Andra: Yeah, we did like one, one off like that, or two, and it was horrible because it was just so much work.
We put in,
Alex: they got the deal of their lifetime. Yeah.
Andra: Like those customers, if you're listening, like good on you. You guys took advantage of a good deal. But after we saw how much work was involved, to the level to execute on work how we wanted to, like I think being a service provider, you like never want, or I don't like to be the person that's just like, Everything's out of scope, and I'm only gonna do this one little piece, but I see like, there's a whole bridge that's burning on the other side that I'm not touching because it's not my responsibility, but I don't see this is gonna work because you're not doing this other piece right now.
So, I think both of us enjoy being like, if we're gonna do something, let's do something right, and let's find the customers that... want to hire us and trust us to do the whole thing. Yeah. And yeah, I remember pitching our first customer, like the whole cohesive year package and they signed on and it was like, yeah, let's do this.
And then shortly after, I think we sold like two or three more. Like it was very much like the right thing. And it was validated by like companies that were coming in as leads into your business. We were jumping on a call and instead of you turning them away because there wasn't just like a perfect
I, the, the boundary was high there. Like I was at a point where. It was funny. I think you were looking at the leads that were coming in and how I was just declining every single one and you're like, wait, what? Like, why? Hold on. There's something here. And I'm like, they are not the perfect fit of what I'm looking for.
So I'm declining 98%. Um, which was, it was, yeah, I mean, it made sense to protect my mental bandwidth and what I was trying to do. But at that point, it was like, yeah, we could, we could actually do something with these. And I think we got to a point pretty quickly where I think we were going to be closing another deal.
And I think you and I were both exhausted by the idea of like making 8 grand or even 10 grand from it. It's like, that's hold on. This is like. I would pay 10 grand and not have to take this on.
Andra: Yeah, but I, I'm saying like when we first took on like the first 40k deal, because that was like our minimum, or maybe it was 30k at the time.
I think so, yeah. And then it grew to 40k and now our minimum 60k. Yeah. And that number is growing only because we're seeing that even when somebody was signing up for 40k, they actually needed like 60k worth of work and we had to have more discussions about like, you know, what do you want us to focus on?
And we're still seeing that. So. Yeah, that's why recently we were like, let's just again, find the customers that are like, I want these guys to run with it. And it's like, honestly, such a good deal, because you hire somebody in your business to do your ops, your operations. And most of the time, it's like they're working full time.
And it's kind of messy because like, it's harder to Almost like trust the process when somebody internal is trying to like lead the charge with process stuff. Do you know what I mean?
Alex: Well, and, and also I, what I've found in working with many companies is the person internally also typically is not like documenting and training.
Like they, they are building the solution and they understand the solution, but there's this level where like if they leave the business. Then it's almost like say someone's using a Google sheet. It's like, well, they've color coded it in all these ways. And it's like, what are these colors mean? They meant something to this person.
And I think there's just something to like, there's not many people that would want to put in the work. So that if they left the company, the company would still be okay. That's not, that's, that's almost what we are proposing more employees do. Well, it's
Andra: our job, and like, a lot of the time, like, yes, employees outgrow a company, that's perfectly normal, and they leave.
And if your, like, process knowledge is leaving with them, it's disruptive. And We've seen like we are more stable than an employee in most cases because yes, if your employee leaves, guess what? We're going to just train the next person and we have documentation and we have video training and we're also available to answer questions.
So like, especially for a middle sized, medium sized business where the founder doesn't want to get involved. It's like, I think the founders that work with us have had a level of relief to be like, yeah, you guys are here to kind of keep the ship going when it comes to like, yeah, integrations and. Serum processes, et cetera.
Okay. But we just got gotten to the depths of like the business side of things, but I guess in terms of being in a relationship. Um, we had to have a lot of conversations about money and how we were gonna like split the income that came in and then you had your existing business with income that you had coming in prior to meeting me.
Yeah. And you were like, I worked like 10 years to have that. So just like you coming in and then all of a sudden splitting everything 50 50 didn't feel quite right. And then. Also, for me, I had to, like, basically let go of my clients because I was moving to the States. So it put me in a, like, way more vulnerable position and that made me, like, really emotional.
And I remember having, like, discussions about, like, a year, year and a half ago now and I had to, like, be like, as your wife, I feel like this. Yeah. As your business partner, I feel like this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you're, like, also trying to wear both hats. Yeah. And I think it's a balance between, like, you didn't want to just.
Do everything I asked for and be a people pleaser because you were like, I still have to like protect what I've built as like in the business, but then as my husband and my partner, you're like, of course, I want you to feel supported because you're like moving to the States and everything.
Alex: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that I remember it was in the bedroom and outside that we were talking about it.
It was like. We were kind of negotiating this, this split on like new customers. Yeah. When a lot of the customer work at the time, at least the idea around it was integration. And that was like the recurring revenue component. And it fell more on me. But there's also the thing, it's like, we were almost taking the, the tools that we had built from like, okay, which, when we're taking out a customer, all this customer, customer is more marketing.
So that's going to, you're going to get more of that revenue. And it's like, oh, this customer is going to be more integration. So you're going to get more of that revenue. That was like a kind of conversation, but then you're like, There's stuff that I'm doing outside of this, like putting together like email, newsletters, and doing sales outreach and marketing that I'm not getting paid for, that's not attributed or tied directly to customer work.
So that helps us get an integration customer. I need to get a split of that integration work, even if I don't do the work. So there's these points where I think like, Yeah, that conversation came up and I think we had agreed, like, I think it was like a 30 70 split on those types of deals and then I think, like, you were cool with it, but then you're like, but as your wife, or I don't remember which one it was, but you're just like, I'm feeling incongruent because of this and I'm, and we, yeah, we had this whole thing.
There's a lot of going back
Andra: and forth. It was, it was not just one conversation. There was many, and I remember agreeing to, yeah, like some kind of 70 30 and sitting with it and just feeling like not valued and underappreciated. And then I came to you with that conversation and was like, I don't think I can be fully in this if that's how we're going to do things.
And yeah, in the end we agreed basically to like. take out the money for taxes, take out money for business expenses, whatever, we have a savings account, and then split the rest 50 50. Yeah. And that's where we are today. And I feel congruent with that. Yeah. Was that hard
Alex: for you? Yeah, so being in a business partnership before, like I was in a business partnership, out of the gate, and there was that level of like, it was my 100%, like it was my full time job, and, It wasn't the other person's full time job.
They actually had a full time job running their own business. So I think that was that part where it like felt so clear that this is my full time thing. Why are we doing a 50 50? Not that it wouldn't be your full time thing in this scenario, I think it's just I've gotten burned from the partnership side of things, and then I trialed new partnerships, and it's like, Oh, this is great.
And then it was very much like, No, this is my full thing. I'm like, I want to create content in the free time I was creating, like a podcast and doing all these things. And then I'm like, here you are, like, you have a family, and you're not doing these things, which makes sense. And that's cool. But you're almost looking at me.
And you even said to me, like, I'm looking for someone younger that can, like, drive and grind. And I could just come in and help in these other areas. And I'm like, that's not what I'm looking for. So it was so early into us working together that I think in a way like we were having conversations in a sense in my mind of like splitting the business in half and and this is like the thing that I was building for the past decade and talking about splitting something 50 50 that was that was it was a bigger conversation in my head than just like what is fair in that moment.
It is like, We didn't have enough working history yet or intertwinedness of things for me to feel comfortable. I I did not at that point want to have a business partner still. Really? In a sense.
Thank you to our friends at GELT for sponsoring this episode. We love GELT. Okay, so I have used a myriad of CPAs over the course of years being in business and finding a CPA that understands business, angel investing, and Also, the complexities, if you listen to episode number one about how we met, well, it was not that straightforward.
Andra: I was living in Australia and also Canada and now have immigrated to the States, so finding a CPA that can help me with that cross border tax bit was just a nightmare. I had spoken to so many CPAs and everybody had limitations and then Alex was on a call catching up with the Gelt founder and we. Just for asking them like what they were up to and they were explaining how they help with their taxes and the cross border stuff And I just got so excited I was saying Alex like just sign up like please let's become a customer because I have been looking for someone that can help Us with this for so long.
Yeah, it was
Alex: so funny He was just like confused, but we're like no we want to you product market fit right here They have saved us probably about 25 grand the first year in working with them because they've gone to the degree of like looking at prior returns and realizing, oh, hey, you overreported your income based on what QuickBooks is saying.
Do you want us to file an amendment? It'll save you seven grand. Absolutely. They've even like given a strategy around, Hey, did you know that if you actually shut down your New York business and open one up in Texas, cause that's where you're based now, it will save you X amount per year. And it's just like, my gosh, absolutely.
And it's been so much strategy that none, no other CPA has ever gone to this extent with us with. And
Andra: they're also a modern CPA. So they are a tech business mixed with a CPA service. So in terms of signing documents, they send over Panadocs, which are e signature documents. No pen and paper, no faxing. My gosh.
And also we have a shared Slack channel. So when we have our tax related questions that I typically would just kick the can with and try to avoid even asking someone because I'm like, what is this going to even? Put me down a rabbit hole on, no, they come back with an answer within like a couple of days and we can actually trust the advice from their team because they're so switched
So if they want to sign up like they are us, what would they do?
Andra: So if you are looking for strategic tax advice, go down to the link in the description and make sure you tell them that Efficient App sent you because that will bump you to the top of the wait list because they do have a wait list right now to get onboarded.
Alex: Cool. Now, back to the episode.
Andra: For anyone listening, like we did end up, you still kept a hundred percent of your pre existing revenue. Yes. And. Yeah, I think that's fair that
Alex: that yeah, I think the biggest yeah, I mean it was almost like we we were We were building a new business together. Yes new customers. I'm like cool. Yeah, it makes sense 50 50.
We're gonna be Yes, we're gonna be working on building the business and building out marketing and sales. That's a different thing But then you did bring up things too, it's like, if we don't sell a new customer, I can't just keep working and not make any money, and I'm also like, yeah, I mean, that's, that's fair, like, I, like, yeah, my existing customers can pay and you can make money from that, like, that makes sense, so I think there was this, this, this muddiness in all of it.
Andra: Yeah, I think. What I like about what we did is that, yeah, you, you kept your pre existing revenue in the end and we had to make the new business. So any new customers we sold together, we had the 50 50 arrangement and like, no pun intended, but I feel like I earned my stripes because we were able to like almost triple the business the first year we worked together.
Yeah. And yeah, it was rewarding to know that I didn't have to come in, not that like, You know, no shade to anybody that would do this. But I like didn't have to come in and be like, okay, now like you're supporting me. And I'm like this lost person. Like I felt proud that I can be like, no, I'm gonna come in the business and we're gonna like make shit happen.
Yeah. And we're going to do business and we're gonna sell customers and we're gonna invest in marketing and yeah. I'm proud that we did that. Yeah. Yeah. Um, With you having a business partnership in the past, and I'll share mine as well, but what are the things that you, that you had as red flags, like you were looking out for when we started working together?
Like what made you, because I remember even early on you saw, I'm kind of answering the question. Yeah, go for it. You saw how I worked and I remember you were like hmm, like you were You wanted to do more of it. So I guess I'm just interested to hear like some of the psychology behind that, of what made you go, I think I can work with this person, and I think I can make them a business partner.
Alex: Yeah, I mean, I think, I think in a lot of business partnerships, there's one person that is like the ideas person, and then the other person is the executor. And the I'm not going to put a blanket statement, but I've seen enough times that like the executor will always get to a point over time of feeling resentment or disdain for their business partner because they're feeling like they're doing all of the work that's actually required.
And in a sense, it's like you could be an ideas person and short of like, you're actually getting so much new business. But then if the executor has to do all the business and you don't hire someone to help with that, like they're all these things have to go right. Like, someone has to be valuable enough to grow the business.
And then you both have to be like, cool, we need to get someone else to help with this. And now this actually makes sense. And there's this equal kind of component to it. But most of the time, you know, it's difficult to do that. So the executor is going to be working and doing all this stuff. And I, I'm an executor.
I am for sure. Like, that is who I am. Um, and I had seen that in the prior partnership that you're in. You were the execute like you were the one that was doing the majority of the work when it came up so I think just through seeing that seeing you set deadlines and and being hard on yourself. If you didn't hit them or if the customer wasn't happy.
Yeah. Like you're beating yourself up and it's like because you wanted to do better. I'm like, that is how I am. So for us to both do that, like, I actually feel like, yeah, it feels like I'm not making a deal with the devil or this unknown thing. It was like, this is someone that I know is going to be as hard on themselves as I am me.
And I don't think I've, I've experienced that in a business partnership
Andra: before. I think for me too, I saw you as an executor, and I saw. What you were, the value you were bringing and I felt like when I did lean on you for the clients that we had toyed with together, I saw like you took like the project from here to here and I was like, that's what I need.
I need someone who's like better at me, better than me at certain skills that I don't have. I don't need someone who's going to know the same skills as me. Yeah. That's like one of the things that I had written down of like why this works and why working as. spouses or partners works, I think because we have different skill sets that we lean on.
Like when we jump on a sales call or even with our customers, I'm very much more like sales or, I mean, on a sales call, we're both sales, let's be honest, but, um, more, I guess. It's like good, good
Alex: cop, bad cop. Yeah. In a way. Yeah.
Andra: I was going to say like customer support. We both do that to a degree, but I'm typically the ones like writing the emails, coordinating getting information, learning their business processes, making sure that their team is trained while you are very much like now you get to be the technical one that gets to build the integration and architect
When, like when we're on a sales call, because I think the thing is, even when we first started pitching companies, like I, I was also sales, like you were sales. I think we both came in and we were both sales. But I realized that I could start backing away from the sales stuff and literally just focus on what the customer is asking for and to think through on the call if it's technically possible to do what's done.
And I can actually disconnect from the money talk and whatever and you can literally look to me and be like, or you could say like, Uh, customer might ask if something's possible and you are like, I think it's possible. And then you look at me and I would be like, well, sort of like depending on this and this, it might be.
And I got to focus my time on just being the problem solver on the call, which was a helpful thing.
Andra: And helpful for me too, because I didn't have to work through what the solution was. I had somebody to do that. So in a way you were like delivering the value the customer needs to hear. And yeah, I get to like.
Be kind of more a passer of information and also think about like, yeah, what this would cost and You know, if they have the budget for it. Yeah. And how that conversation's gonna go. Because a lot of the time when we get on a call with a potential client, they're not like, oh yeah, no problem, like budget's no issue.
They're like, well, they're trying to understand what this working relationship looks like because it's an unusual one. It's not a common business model that we have. Yeah. To like overhaul operations, to build integrations, and to maintain them. So I think once people have a conversation with us, typically they're like, yeah, this makes sense.
Yeah. Like we had the last customer we did sell for 40 grand. I remember he was like, that's nothing. If like you guys are going to actually do what you say you're going to do. And yeah, that's not a, we're not, we're not in a phase of selling things that are just promises. Yeah. We've done it.
Alex: I think there was a point where I realized I was in In this kind of comfort zone of the business, just being the size that it was at.
So it had essentially grown the business to about 150, 000 a year in revenue. And it was almost like stably, like it was at that number. Um, and there was a point where I was trying to focus, how do I get more of that to be recurring revenues? So more integration, ongoing revenue, but it kind of stayed there.
And I was kind of like cool with that amount with the amount of work that was involved in maintaining that. Um, but I think you were doing, we, we'd find this whole thing fear setting Tim Ferris, uh, talks a lot about it. He didn't create it. I don't think, but there was, um, a coda document where someone had built out.
So you can essentially fill it out. So you had done it for yourself for should I continue working with your largest customer? Because there's a lot of difficulties. Some of it expectation set large project. Impossible expectations because the project is just so large totally, um, working through if that made sense for you to stay or to leave, which is also you just giving up the revenue of that and then I'm like, well, I should do it for myself to about do I stay running the business in the way that I've been doing it because I'm definitely, you know, having those thoughts of like, do I try to hire someone and grow?
Oh, well, that would be difficult finding the right person. And like I've been doing this back and forth for forever. Like years now at this point. So the question was, do I continue building the business the way that it is? Or do I shake something up and try to grow the business? Or do I try to do something altogether different?
Cause I think it was just at that point is working in it for a decade. I think that's kind of, what am I doing at this point? So this is before even we were like working together properly or anything like that. It was like separate things. And I think I just realized in doing that, that while I'm comfortable, um, I would be kind of disappointed if, say, three years later, like one of the things the exercise is like projecting out in the future, how you would feel and I'm like, I know three years from now, I'm going to be doing the same amount of revenue.
I'm going to be in a very similar position and that just feels very comfortable. And. I feel like I should be seeking more discomfort. And that, that was something that I'm just like, I feel like something does need to change. I just don't know if I was quite there yet to do it or know what that was.
Andra: Yeah, and I think you were Really tied to the lifestyle aspect of your business and you built your whole business around you getting to do the things that you really enjoy, which is like giving product feedback and building partnerships with other SaaS companies.
And you were like, I feel like my business is playful and fun. And the idea of scaling a business sounds like it's like there's accountability and like
Alex: boredom. It's an expectation. I now need to actually have work for this employee to do. And I'm like, I don't even have work for myself to do some weeks.
So like. Yeah, customers, more expectations, more things that can go wrong. Like, it was like, growing was all these negative thoughts. Because that, because the opportunity cost was like my time and being, and having freedom to just explore new software and build integrations for myself. Like, there's a point where it's like, I almost didn't have enough client work.
At the time that I got to just like, automate my own business. And I kind of enjoyed that because it was playful. But it's also kind of silly to be doing that in a way.
Andra: Yeah. And I think that when we did start scaling the business, I mean, I don't even want to say scaling. Like we expanded our service offering.
Yeah. And we did triple the business, but it's not like we scaled like that, but we were both congruent on it being a lifestyle business. And I think like that also partnerships can like not work out if one person is like, I want to scale at all costs and I want to take on work that's like not an alignment just for the sake of money versus.
Let's say no to the business that like doesn't align with us and doesn't excite us. And that's something that like, I don't think you can plan. It's just worked for us that you were like, this customer on the sales call made me feel Like crap or I left the call feeling deflated Like I don't think I would want to work with them for a year and I feel like
Alex: they see us as executors Just literally like a hired hired hand hired gun.
Like that's not the feeling that I want to feel or you want to feel Yeah, so Yeah, every every facet like that That was something that we could actually take into consideration Have an honest kind of conversation about and be like I actually think that we should decline this because they're not willing to relinquish control.
They're not looking for us. They're not looking to hire us for our expertise. They are looking to hire us so that we can just do work for them. And that's not the business that we're in.
Andra: Yeah. It felt like that alignment. Like, you welcomed me into your playful business and I had to let go of some of my ideals about like business because I'd feel guilty sometimes being like, wait, do we get to have like this much fun?
Do we get to really like set boundaries? Oh my God. Like, did I learn about setting boundaries since working with you? Yeah. Actually had a therapist tell me because I have people pleasing tendencies and basically the therapist was like, you should not. Do customer support or you should not promise. Well,
Alex: you said you're like, I love customer support.
I love talking to customers and, and it's like, so it's so convenient. Like I, I could take over customer support. Cause it's so much fun. It's great. I'm a people person. And then you're, you're a therapist. Like you're the exact person that should not be doing that. Because that means you're setting the wrong expectations, you're people pleasing, you need the person that has the boundaries to be doing the customer work.
And I'm like, but that's, that's me, and I don't want to be doing the customer work. It was, it was,
Andra: yeah. Yeah, I remember he said that. I love that. Like him, Dr. Sam's like the best therapist ever. And he, he like dropped that truth bomb on me, and I was like, Touche, okay. But yeah, then what that led to is like, I'd write up, What I'm saying and then I'd be like, how does this sound and you'd be like, why are you saying this is going to be done in two days?
We'll get you
Alex: this in two days. And I'm like, we'll get you this in a couple weeks. It's like I would just, you know, yeah.
Andra: Yeah. Okay. So other reasons why we work together. We talked about like differences in strengths. I think another one is that I'm a starter and you're a finisher. Yeah. This one like we just realized this year.
Yeah. But basically like if we have something to do, whether it's client work or internal, like writing an article, let's just use that as a really basic example. Yeah. If there's an article to write and It's a blank slate as in like you're not like something did not just happen in real life that inspired you to write because
Alex: that's the only time that I do like if someone's like, What do you think of Divi, then I will literally be like, write them an essay.
And then I'll send it and I'm like, wait, I just wrote a blog post and I'll copy and paste that in and be like, okay, well, I'm in that mode, but that's not most of the content that needs to be done. So
Andra: if we're like, hey, we should like do this piece of content and then I realize that I'm good at like starting it and getting like the framework of what it needs to be, or even this podcast, like I'm like, here's the shape of each episode and you were just like, Ugh, I don't, like, what is this?
Like, we sat three hours and, like, I remember at the beginning of the conversation saying, like, Alex, I would like to walk away from this conversation feeling expire inspired and excited and not drained. Yeah. And you were like, I understand what you're asking for. But you are good at putting, like, the finishing touches on something and, like, editing or, yeah, like, adding on your ideas.
Uh, at the end, like whatever that is. Yeah. So I think that's also what works. There was also like another couple friend of ours that we were sharing this with and they worked together and I remember like, the guy was like, yeah, he was like, that's totally me. I understand that. Yeah. So. To
Alex: the point where, where they were saying, and it's the same thing for us, where you may need my help and the problem is you may think it's a quick thing or you only want my attention for a minute.
But I, I need to do like my, when I get pulled in, I need to do it right and my brain starts, it's almost like you, you take over my brain when you ask for something for a minute that I might get engulfed into something for hours from that. And you're, and even if you preface it, like I literally need one minute of your time.
And if this is a bigger thing than I think it is, walk away. And I can't, like, I literally, I can't. do that. I have to then dive into it if there's something larger involved. And they had experienced the exact same thing.
Andra: Yeah, it's really hard when I just need, I need like a green light, red light kind of answer of like, stop what you're doing, continue what you're doing.
But then you give me like everything in between. And then it turns into like an hour conversation. And I'm like, this is not what I expected. But I'm I feel like I'm getting better at it with Um, even though we work in the same house, we start, we have started working asynchronously, meaning like I'll literally record a Loom video and send it to you to look at later.
Yeah. If it's not urgent, if it is something that I'm like, I literally can't do what I need to do, then I'll ask you in the moment. But I realize like sometimes when I'm frustrated with something and I share it with you, I You taking the time to think about what I'm saying and taking it seriously and even like workshop a few ideas shows me that like you're engaged in my like problem solving and that like makes my defenses come down where I think sometimes when you bring things to me that I don't agree on I'm more just like no this can't work because blah yeah and you're like hold on can we have a conversation
Alex: about it I mean the the why like is even just in relationship like all this stuff overlaps so many things understanding The why behind the ask is sometimes more important than the ask itself.
So otherwise you just make assumptions as to why, like, I think one of the examples was something about like. I had heard that a video had to be less than a minute long, and I'm like, okay, well, the YouTube short, it has to be less than a minute long, but in your mind, you want it to be about, like, 35 seconds, so my goal was to make it less than a minute, and I thought I had succeeded at that, and then I learned that, like, you were more concerned about the engagement and the fall off, that it needed to be shorter, and, like, all the stuff was missed, so, like, I had worked so hard on this video and showed it to you, and you were just, like, disappointed, and, In it, and I thought I was respecting the, the why of what you wanted done, but I had missed.
actually like the, the next level of
Andra: it. I didn't communicate it to you. And I, like all these things just show us the importance of like, if you do something a certain way, just tell someone why you did that. Yeah. And I even do that now. Like when I set up like a customer CRM, like I know I'm doing it in a certain way.
You might do it in a different way. But I try to explain to you the context of like why I did it this way. So you come on the journey with me. Yeah. And I'm seeing a trend with more and more couples working together. And that's not to say that it's for everybody. I think like, You know, so many people that have amazing relationships that don't work together.
But like one cool thing I was listening to on another podcast, um, that's a podcast focused on relationships. They did a survey, their audience, and they asked like, what's the number one reason that people break up or you've broken up in the past? And the number one reason was that they had felt that they had grown apart.
Like the podcast host shared that there's this thing called the self expansion theory, which basically means like, as a person, we want to grow, we want to be better. Um, we want new learnings, we want new resources. So when you are in a relationship with someone that makes you grow, and you get access to their knowledge and their network, and you can grow together, like that's really fulfilling.
Yeah. And I think The reason more people don't talk about that is because it seems transactional in a way and more almost conditional. Yeah. And I think people are still tied to the idea of like this fairy tale, love and romance where it's like, I think we have a lot of love in our relationship, but we also like gain a lot of like practical things from each other.
Like I gain practical skill sets that like make me a better person when I'm around you. And that's really fulfilling. Yeah.
Alex: Yeah, I mean, I, I, what I, and this is some of it just in the way that I was raised in a sense, it's like the dinner table. We can talk about business. And I know sometimes that was overstepping things from my mom's like, Oh, let's not talk about business tonight or whatever else.
But, um, I love that we can have dinner or go for a walk and talk about business or talk about customers or talk about what we're stressed about. And I think there's something to in being in a relationship where Transcript I have stressors, you have stressors, and often, like, that may come from, like, customer work that we're working on.
You can explain these things, and I know full context behind it, and, like, in terms of, like, having a partner that empathizes. Like, imagine that we didn't understand each other's work, and you had a frustration about ABC customer, and I know nothing about ABC customer. I'm trying to be there as a partner to understand and empathize, but you'll never get that.
Whereas we can fully empathetically. understand where each other's coming from and also try to work out solutions because we work together. So like, there's these things where it's like, let's literally just go for a walk and talk about it. But then the cool thing too is I think also our customers benefit from this because we are literally going for walks throughout the day or having dinner together and talking about you and your problems and how we can solve them.
And They're kind of renting a spot in both of our brains in that way, or like, literally taking a shower and then brushing our teeth and literally talking about a customer. Like, I just had a shower thought, maybe we can do this instead of this and whatever, and like, yeah.
Andra: To your point, I remember when I had my own customers and I had to like talk through things because things were, you know, whatever, like need to workshop through things.
And I remember at one point we were out for a walk and you were like, my cup's just too empty to like help you work through this. And I remember being like, yeah, I understand because that's something we had like agreed upon previously to always like communicate. If one of us is like trying to take something that doesn't exist from the other person, if you can't give, you can't give.
Yeah. So. I think that with our shared customers, what's cool is that we do get to, like, we do have the shared stress. Like, there's no, like, if my cup's empty because of something that happened that's work related, it's probably, like, your cup's empty too. Yeah. Yeah. And. Yeah, it's like when you're working through something, it's for the benefit of both of us, because otherwise, it's like you have your own stress in your job, and then you have your partner's job and their stress, and then you're trying to help them with their stress, but it's not like actually helping you in any way other than like just your relationship.
Alex: Well, I mean, this, this is an area that's, that's super interesting too, that I haven't experienced in other relationships, because you and I could like sit down and want to have some quality time to like watch a movie, but there could be a You know, we're obviously connected There's a point where like with the support desk like my phone will get alerted And I feel like for me to actually relax and enjoy the movie I might need to just check and like this is not urgent or this is urgent if something urgent pops up.
I May just be like I actually have to take this and in prior relationships. It's been like a frustration point Or it's like, you promised that we would watch this tonight. And whereas I think like, when we're, since we're both in business, we understand that great, I will be here. I will be not present and this won't actually be quality time.
So should we be doing this right now? So you encourage me super early on. No, no, no. We'll watch this later. Go do what you need to do. And I might just spend a half hour, send off an email. And like, I am here, I am back, I am present. And this understanding between the two of us, like his helped. So much because then it's also like I don't feel bad when this stuff comes up to or have to hide it or feel like I'm like walking on eggshells where it's like, Can you tell that I'm not paying attention right now?
Because my head is elsewhere. Or there's even a point where like you've called it out. It's like you don't seem present. It's like, Yeah, I'm thinking through whatever. And it's like, you should go deal with that. But not feeling in any way like frustration toward me or vice
Andra: versa. Yeah, I remember like, even vice versa, the time we were watching a movie.
And I remember it was like 20 minutes in and I was like, Like, I can't do this. Yeah. Like, I really just need to go answer this email. Yeah. And you were like, okay. And I remember just being like, this is so nice. Yeah. I have like so much flexibility. Yeah. Because I had that feeling of like I'm interrupting what we're doing.
And like to follow on from that, it's like if it's a shared customer and you're going to deal with it. It actually fills up my cup. Yeah. Yeah. Because I'm like, he's dealing with it. Yes. I don't have to. Yeah. Yeah. So it's almost like you're doing something nice for us as a couple when you are dealing with it on your own.
Yeah, and I guess vice versa. Yeah,
Alex: I think there's something like an, uh, a sub part of this that's interesting. Also, where In, in being in a relationship and like maybe needing to get work done, we also respect, um, what it takes to get into the mode of wanting to work, which is also like a component that has been really unique where I know in prior relationships, I've been like, not in the mood to work, but I need, like, I need to get something done.
And maybe I need to procrastinate a little bit, watch a YouTube video or do something stupid, even play a video game, um, before rolling into something and any other. You know, partner of mine would be like, I thought you had to work or like all these things. And I, I just know these things are where it's like, I'm almost hiding what I'm doing, but it's like, I'm doing this for a reason.
I don't quite know what that reason is. And I think you and I talked so much through it that the reason is to get us into the mode of work. And sometimes that requires us to not be working or doing something else before doing it. So you were encouraging me and I was encouraging you well. If you're not really in the mode of work, like let's watch a show real quick, or let's play a quick video game.
Like we do these things where it's like, let's literally do the complete opposite. Or if I walk in, you're like, I'm going to go work on XYZ customer. And then I walk in and you're watching a beauty YouTube video, for example. I'm not like, Oh, I thought you're going to work on customer work. Like it's, there's like, it's just an unspoken.
I got it. I understand. And dude, don't even try to hide this from me. Like literally just do it. And it, yeah, that's, I think that's been really unique.
Andra: I like, love the grace that you've, you've like shown me that's okay. Yeah. Because I remember feeling at times like, at the beginning, especially when you're like trying to figure out how things are working and you're like, I know I said I was going to do this today, but I'm not working on it right now.
But like, I think this also goes with like, a trend that's becoming more common. I think, like, remote work was, like, all the rage through the pandemic, but now I think, like, the next thing is a non linear work day, which is, like, more and more people are realizing that we're humans and working from nine to five is not what's going to suit somebody.
Yeah. And there's times where, yeah, I might want to work out in the morning or go for a walk or just. Take like a really slow morning and then work from 7 to midnight and it's dark in our place and it's not sunny out, I don't have FOMO, and I'm really focused and it's nice to be able to get to do that.
Alex: There's, there's points where like you could be working and I could be playing literally sitting next to each other and yeah, there's no feeling of I need to hide this and in that like, I don't even know how to explain how. How nice it is to have that with your partner and it almost needs to exist if you're working with your partner because Otherwise like yeah, like that that resentment walking on eggshells like you will resent the person that is playing when you're working And all of that stuff.
Like, I could literally be working on building out new website pages and stuff like that, and you could be playing a video game. And I know there's points where you've even brought up to me where you're like, I feel like this week you were in such a work grind mode, and I'm not, and I feel bad. Oh, yeah.
And I'm like, don't feel bad, because I'm, I'm just trying to take advantage of this motivation and drive that I have. And I know that maybe next week or the week after or whatever, like, you will do what you need to do when it needs to be done. And I maybe want to play at that point and it's just it is it's really nice to be able to do that but there it's like this 50 50 and everything that we're doing but it's it's in time it will be like maybe it's this month I'm doing this and next month you're doing it or maybe it's like six months from now you're doing and I'm like it doesn't matter when it just it's we've shown each other that we will pick up the slack when it's needed and it allows for grace in the daily.
Yeah, there's an ebb
Andra: and flow. Yeah. Okay, if we were to break up, do you think you would want to work with another partner? As in, like, what I'm asking for. It's not like, this isn't that deep. It's more just like, is this a type of relationship that you think, for you, it's something that suits you and you would do again?
Alex: Yeah, I would, I... The truth of the matter is the type of person it would require. I think it's easy to also just be in a relationship and be like, it would be cool to work together. I think a lot of like couple of friends of ours, like, like let's try a side business or something. And I think that's cool, but there's so much that, that works for the way that you and I are that make it work.
I think it would be, and that's where I think just the way that we are together. Like there's so much. It, it would be so difficult to find this. So I don't know. I would like to. Like I'm saying that I would, that would be a nice thing to do. I don't know if that would, would exist or be able to happen again.
So like, I don't think it's likely, which is also one of those other things that like values the relationship so much because I realize what we have.
Andra: Yeah. I think for me, like I think about often how much like fruitfulness our working relationship has brought to my life. I feel like. I get to be a part of this thing that's like unusual and it just, it feels like very exciting for me and I just like love the energy that's like, like we're doing this in our house right now and we get to both podcast together and then we're like, tonight we're going to relax together and I just like really like the synergy.
So for me it just feels like it makes my life more rich being in a partnership that like crosses over between career and then just like a traditional relationship. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Okay, I think this wraps up this episode about working together with your spouse. Cool. Cheers to many more years. Let's end every episode with spirit fingers.
Spirit fingers? I don't know, it just feels like the right thing to do.
Alex: That's all. Coming up next. Every single decision is so granular. You almost need a company to move fast and try things to have better experiences.
Andra: Traditionally, companies pitch investors, and we have never invested in a company that way.
Alex: You should not start a business unless you want to make very little money, but grow
Andra: a lot. When I think about companies that I would want to invest in, and where my interests are, like, I don't want to invest in any of those companies.
Alex: There's certain deals that you and I have invested in, and they just Hey company, you need Alex and Andra on your cap table because they're just like kick ass angel investors.
Like you just want them in your court. The more you trust the people around you, the easier it is to do business. Building trust with a stranger is, is a lot of work.
Curious what top SaaS companies are using the software stack mentioned in the video above? We've put together a list (and even tracked the software they used to use)!