As first published on www.forbes.com
Individuals with best friends in the workplace are 43 percent more likely to receive recognition and praise , according to a Gallup Poll. Many successful global businesses were started by best friends: Apple by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; Microsoft by Bill Gates and Paul Allen; P&G by William Procter and James Gamble.
Jason Smylie and Ashley Morris are best friends who have grown a successful franchise together.
Ashley Morris and Jason Smylie were childhood friends turned college roommates who since have become business partners. The business part of their relationship began when they loved a sandwich so much, they broke their apartment lease just to move closer to the restaurant that served it. That restaurant was Capriotti’s, a sandwich chain. Morris and Smylie’s passion led them to purchase the entire franchise while still in their twenties. Today, the restaurant has over 100 locations across the U.S.
While working with a friend can be rewarding, it also provides unique challenges that can affect both business and friendship. Morris and Smylie offer these insights on running a successful business with a friend:
Create a hierarchy: Decide who will have the ultimate say if there is a disagreement. There will be times in the partnership when you must be able to agree to disagree and still make a decision to move forward.
Have a beginner mindset: When we bought the company ten years ago, we had no previous experience as franchisors. We had to embrace the beginner mindset while also acting confidently. We were able to surround ourselves with people who could mentor and guide us.
Hang out outside of work: You will most likely see your best friend five to six days a week at work, but do not consider this “friendship quality time.” Before you know it, your friendship may become just a working relationship. Be sure to protect it.
Agree on the company’s mission and values: Make company values an extension of both of your personal values. As the company grows, you will lead by these values. If both partners are not aligned, it will be very difficult to make corporate decisions.
Bring different skill sets to the office: Having a variety of skill sets allows for a 1+1=3 relationship and avoids duplicating efforts.
At Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Jason Smylie serves as president and Ashley Morris as CEO. Although he loves what he does, Smylie says he never would have predicted when he was young that this would be his line of work. “For the last 15 years, Ashley and I have had extremely rewarding careers in franchising. It has taught us a ton and afforded our families great lives. I am so grateful for that.”
Smylie doesn’t believe in a singular life purpose so much as doing something that brings you joy.CAPRIOTTI’S SANDWICH SHOP
Smylie does not believe that pursuing a singular, life-defining purpose is the key to having a happy and meaningful life. “I believe the conventional wisdom to find your purpose and focus on that is misguided and the source of a low-level societal anxiety. Young people shouldn’t be so worried. We place way too much importance on this notion of purpose and not enough on just finding joy in whatever we are doing and the relationships we value. This doesn’t mean you should stay in a career that is unfulfilling. But there is joy to be had when you realize that your path, wherever you are in it, is what it’s all about.”
He himself “meandered a bit through life,” says Smylie. He studied computer science in high school and continued to follow this passion through college to become a programmer. But when he entered the workforce, he quickly realized that this particular vocation was not for him. So, he went back to school to pursue an M.B.A. He and Morris decided to buy Capriotti’s because they were huge fans of the sandwiches and “had always talked about going into business together.”
The most meaningful part of his work, Smylie says, is knowing people are benefiting from it – from the franchisees, to the thousands of employees, to the customers. “Everyone wins. Our company values are an extension of mine and Ashley’s personal values. We see a win-win mindset play out in a grand form with Capriotti’s.”
“The best advice I could give to others is to be a curious person and don’t be so hell-bent on finding that one perfect thing,” Smylie counsels. “Life is a journey to be enjoyed. Without a sense of curiosity, you may limit yourself.”
I am a New York Times bestselling author, coauthor and ghostwriter of over a dozen non-fiction books and hundreds of articles for publications including Huffington Post, Self, Stanford magazine, and MindBodyGreen. I specialize in health and wellness, spirituality and psychol… MORE
MeiMei Fox is a New York Times bestselling author specializing in health, wellness and positive psychology. As a writer and life coach, she helps people align careers with their life purpose.