Early last year we started interviewing other couples in business together. Some couples had been running a business together for years, others decades. Some where still passionately in love and others had to dissolve the business relationship to save their intimate relationship.
Holy moly where there some great stories, advice, and warnings.
My favorite part, by far, was how no story or challenge was really, unique. Meaning the challenges that one couple faced were likely the exact same for many others. It was astonishing how “alone” some couples felt with these challenges, yet they weren’t alone at all.
You may have an amazing relationship, you may do life/family/health/fun amazing together as a couple. However, there’s something very interesting that happens when you decide to go into business together.
Running a business with your partner can be incredibly rewarding and fun. It is. The flexibility and freedom of not having to deal with a “boss” is so, so nice.
However, when your business partner is your spouse, there are tricky parts as well. For example, if they are kind of being a little shit that day, you can’t exactly run home and vent to your spouse about what a “rough day at work you had because you co-worker drove you nuts”. You know what I mean.
The beauty is there are some MAJOR resources and guidelines we’ve acquired over the years of running a business together as husband and wife and sitting down with other couples starting businesses or running business together.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll have a super happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationship in and outside of business. Ignore these guidelines and watch shit hit the fan in no time – says every couple who has ever owned a business together.
4 MUST DO’s when starting (or running) a business with your spouse:
Know Your Strengths.
- You must know each others strengths as well. Then, play to your strengths. No questions asked. If either of you is operating the business in an area that is not your strength the system will break due to stress, frustration, or resentment (no bueno!). If you happen to notice either of you are doing a job which isn’t your strength (and mastering this area isn’t an ideal option) figure out a way to change it, hire someone to do the job, or at least create an exit strategy so that neither of you are feeling trapped doing a job or task that is truly not suited for you.
- One huge breakthrough we had personally was after taking the DiSC assessment separately then sharing our results together. The DiSC assessment is often used in the corporate world because it’s such a powerful and practical tool for understanding how people operate best and who they operate best with. It will give you tremendous insight into your strengths and needs to be your best self and do your best in business with your spouse. For example, we discovered his personality type is a “D” for dominate who is very direct and is fine working by themselves or doing the job themselves. I was an “i” for influential, I need to work people and love collaboration. Can you see how different those two types are? It helped us a ton to take a deep dive into what we both need and want when working together so we don’t leave each meeting in tears or frustrated. Take the assessment already!
Define Roles ASAP.
- Admittedly Jairek and I didn’t do this right away and it ended up blowing up in our faces. Imagine too many chefs in the kitchen. Kind of a headache right. On top of that, imagine them cooking from two different menus. Hot mess. Then imagine each of them assumes the other is cooking dinner, so both are making dessert. You’re kitchen is falling apart because you’re stepping on each others toes and totally not on the same page regarding who is doing what by when and how. This is crucial to a happy, functional, and efficiently run business.
- Sidenote: When roles sometimes overlap our mantra is “Assumptions kill the team” We always confirm who is doing what, by when or how, never assume or it will surely slip through the cracks.
- I know you, no one likes meetings. Here’s the bonus of running a business with your spouse: You don’t always have wear clothes to your meeting. Major bonus. But when you do, at least you don’t have as many pointless meetings as you would in most corporate jobs. Win-win. Meetings will help you stay on track with your goals, accountability, team work, dedicated time to work through challenges and most importantly celebrate WINS! Make it a point to have meetings, regularly to make sure you’re keeping the train on it’s tracks!
Set ‘Non-Work’ Hours
- I’ll be honest. We’re not the best at this, but some couple’s swear by the “No work talk after 5pm”. Others are more lax and limit business to weekdays. For us, we found that when you’re passionate or excited about what you do, it’s especially hard to not share a random thought or idea regarding business. So instead, we have a work day which is wrapped up with morning and evening rituals or routines that allow us to connect and move in and out of the workday without working ourselves to death. You know what I mean? So for example, it might be going to yoga at 5:45, or the dog park at 6pm. There’s something we schedule to help us “turn off”, but we don’t shut down the random business ideas completely. It happens naturally as we physically do things which take our attention away from our work. Do what works for you and adjust as needed to find a nice balance.
Those are some quality nuggets to start with as you start a business with your spouse or are working through some challenges in a business you’re currently running with your partner. Either way, definitely check out the infographic below for more insight and tips on making working with your spouse fun, fulfilling, and highly rewarding!
If there’s something you loved or something you think could help someone you know here, please share the love!