How to Manage Business Relationships

(Episode 2 of 2 with Evan Stewart)

How to Manage Business Relationships

In the last episode with Evan Stewart, we discussed how to build a successful business by focusing on quality before we focus on monetization. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how we can build better relationships with ourselves, our customers, and our partners. 

Relationship with Ourselves

To turn our business goals into a reality, we need to build a strong relationship with ourselves. Evan shared five areas that complete a whole person: personal, financial, spiritual, relational, and professional. As we focus our time, resources, and energy on improving ourselves in these five areas, we will begin to get into the right headspace for success. 

Personal: How do we feel about ourselves when the door closes and we’re alone? Our personal headspace and attitude about ourselves have a huge impact on the success of our businesses. If we aren’t confident and competent in who we are, our customers and employees won’t believe our value either. 

Financial: Inc. completed a study in 2016 that found people are willing to take as much as a 32% pay cut to be happier in their workplace (Source: Inc). “I believe that what you earn and how you earn it is just as important. You want to earn a million dollars, great, but how you get that money is just as important as the money that you actually receive,” Evan said. We need to focus on financial security while balancing our personal happiness. Where do we find fulfillment? How can we balance fulfillment with our financial needs?

Spiritual: We need to know what we believe in, what our morals are, and what we value. As we understand this, we should align our business values with our personal values. Otherwise, we can experience internal conflict that can have a large negative impact on our business.  

Relational: The relationships we build with those around us are key to the success of our businesses. We need the support of others in our lives for encouragement, strength, and motivation. “Relationships are some of the most important things that you can focus on at any stage of the business because the people close to you will be the reason you succeed,” Evan said. 

Professional: In our businesses, we should maintain a professional attitude with our business associates. We should also be professional in the way we set goals and use our resources to maximize profit in our businesses. “Your workplace needs to inspire, fascinate, and motivate,” Evan said. As we do this, our life should significantly improve because of the time and work we put in. 

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Evan said, “Clarity doesn’t come unless you look at those five areas and know how you’re dividing your time.” He continued, “At a high level, I believe that these five areas, in particular, provide a fundamental framework for you to look at how you’re spending your time. I recommend touching them on a weekly basis and saying, ‘Okay, I need to make sure that I’m spending time, that I’m investing energy and resources, in these five areas every single week to make sure that my life stays in a good flow of balance.’” 

Relationships with Our Customers

We need to focus on building relationships with our customers so they feel valued and appreciated. With Obsessed Academy, Evan focuses on helping his clients establish those customer relationships so they can find success in their businesses. 

A fundamental principle Evan believes and teaches is, “a transaction is a byproduct of a vested relationship and not the goal of a relationship.” Instead of focusing on a transaction, we should focus on connecting with our customers. As we build referral-rich relationships, our company will have greater success in scaling and becoming profitable. 

Our sales and goals are achieved by having a conversation without a motive. One of the mistakes professionals often make is focusing on their motives and forgetting to have a conversation. 

If we want to create a repeat customer, we need to focus on the relationship and the conversation. The relationship will not be built on transactional goals. “When you can just have a conversation, at some point a solution will arise, and at some point, there’s an opportunity to dive deep into what you really need. And we can position our products or services as the solution. Then there’s an opportunity to do business there,” Evan said. 

Relationships with Our Partners

We need to be cautious with the relationships we choose to build in our partnerships. Evan’s biggest setback stemmed from bad partnerships.

“I thought that I needed help. I thought I needed a partnership. It really stemmed from an insecurity, actually,” Evan said. “I wasn’t confident so I got into these business partnerships with people where I would work very, very hard, and there would be disparagement in labor and results versus my partner who didn’t share the same moral or work ethic.”

Sometimes we may enter into a partnership because we lack a good relationship with ourselves and feel the need to rely on someone else. This can cause major problems in the future. While partnerships can be beneficial, Evan encourages us to be very careful about the partnerships we choose to enter. If a partnership fails, we not only lose past opportunities we could have had if we weren’t in the partnership, we also lose time as it could take us one to two years to get back on our feet and adjust our businesses.  

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“You have to be very hyper-aware and audit the relationships that you’re working with. Just because somebody is excited to work with you doesn’t mean that you’re the right person. Sometimes you’re looking for help when in reality you need time,” Evan said.  

I had made a similar mistake earlier in my career. I didn’t believe in myself enough, and I thought I needed to hire people or bring on people to do things for me which resulted in a waste of energy and potential lost opportunities. We’ve got to realize as entrepreneurs that we have the capabilities to figure things out. We have to have faith in ourselves. 

While we can get help, it doesn’t mean we can’t do everything on our own. We shouldn’t have to give up equity in our business or hire someone to give them control of something that we are very capable of doing ourselves. 

“If you’re looking at a partnership, [know] 50/50 partnerships never existed. They just don’t exist,” Evan said. “There’s always someone that’s putting out more effort over here and driving more results. There’s always a disparagement.”

If we choose to enter into a partnership, we need to remember that in reality, there is no such thing as a perfect partnership. Someone will always be giving a bit more than someone else. If we come to a disagreement, our entire business plan could fall apart. No two people are ever going to agree 100% of the time. Someone has to be able to step up and make that decision. Otherwise, the company is stuck in a state of paralysis. 

“You’ve got to have a leader. Every army has to have someone leading the charge forward,” Evan said. If we’re looking at a partner, Evan recommends:

1. Do everything you can to not give up equity in your company. 

2. If you have to give away equity, do it in a way where you can still retain control. 

3. Have an exit strategy in mind and on paper in case things don’t go as well as we hoped. 

Instead of trying to split our business evenly, we need to have one person take charge. The split could be 60/40 or 80/20. Whatever the case, someone needs to own enough of the company to be CEO so when we have differing opinions on decisions, that person can make the final call. We should keep decision-making authority. 

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Evan for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. As we focus our time, resources, and energy on improving the personal, financial, professional, relational, and spiritual aspects of our lives, we will begin to get into the right headspace for success. 

2. A transaction is a byproduct of a vested relationship and not the goal of a relationship.

3. If we enter into a partnership, we should remember to do everything we can to avoid giving up equity in our company, stay in control, and have an exit strategy prepared in case things don’t go as we hoped. 

Connect with Evan

If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Evan or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn or visit his website at You can also listen to his Obsessed Podcast for more insights from him. 

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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