Whether its a side business on top of your day to day job, or you are moving from full time employment into running your own business full time – The process can be extremely stressful and overwhelming as it is, but doing so with your spouse can make it even more in some cases.
Many couples will have mixed opinions on the thought of going into business with their spouse – but I believe most of these views are based on misconceptions on how the day to day operating of the business can be set up. Remember, you are the business owners – you can decide how things are operated between you both – whether that be spending every moment with each other – or not!
Here are 7 rules to follow to help make the process of starting your own business as a couple the best decision you had ever made.
1. KNOW EACH OTHERS STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
You would hope if you are a married couple/long term couple – you will know your strengths and weakness, and what your partner will view as your strengths and weaknesses. If not then this will be a good exercise for your relationship either way I am sure! If you know yourself well, you will know what these are even if you don’t like the answer. Remember, you partner is allowed to think you have a weakness – visa versa! We are not perfect.
Strengths and weaknesses can be both in business and personality trades generally. Your partner may not know what you are good at in work, but this is a good opportunity to learn that about each other.
For example, we had a local sports newspaper requesting to conduct an interview with our business as our primary clients are within the sports industry. I thought having almost 5 years of experience in sales and talking to clients every day that I would be amazing at answering questions in a media setting. We soon learnt, my strength is talking to people but not in a media interview setting – my husband has been doing this most of his career and took the lead on it and when listening to the interview – I learnt a lot from his answers and how he conducted himself!
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will be an important exercise to define your roles within the business.
2. CLEARLY DEFINED ROLES WITHIN THE BUSINESS
When starting up – there are many initial start up tasks, plus the on going day to day tasks of running the business. Between you, it would be advisable to discuss how many hours each of you can dedicate to the business on a weekly basis. Perhaps one of you will still work full time, whilst the other focuses on the business full time etc, either way understanding how much time you can dedicate to the business, and when is important to the distribute responsibilities.
It is important this exercise isn’t unrealistic. Do not give yourself or your partner too much responsibilities that cannot be achieved. Or perhaps trial it week by week and see what tasks you could get to, or not, then shift them around a bit. If there is ultimately too much to cover for the time you have – think about hiring to support you with some of the tasks that can be delegated at this stage.
What you do not want is to have a negative conversation/argument over not being able to complete tasks/roles that were unrealistic in the first place, or, referring to point 1 – was one of your weaknesses, so perhaps shouldn’t have been assigned to you anyway.
Another point in this section would be that there is a lot of admin involved in setting up and running a business generally – we do not all find these tasks fun and exciting, but that does not make it a weakness and reason to not take on the task. You will need to take responsibilities for parts of the business that may not be the “fun” parts, but that is the sacrifice you make – once everything is up and running these are the tasks that you can delegate when you hire.
3. WORK-LIFE BALANCE
You live with this person and you work with this person – you also need time away from this person – it’s healthy to say that!
Maintain a social group and hobbies that interest you separately as well as together. If all of your conversations outside of working are about work, this could impact your relationship long term if you stop making time together and individually for fun, socialising and hobbies.
Planning things in advance helps – as you are committing to time away from the business, so you should plan to complete urgent tasks before this – so you can actually have downtime!
4. CLEAR VISION
What is the long term goal, both from a business point of view and in your personal life?
Do you want to sell the business in 10 years to pay off your mortgage? do you want to pass the business on to your next generation? Do you want to hire so that the running of the business is covered so you can retire early and travel? Do you want to open an office and hire a team?
Whatever it might be, you need to have a clear defined vision together, so you are working for the same end goal! You don’t want to get years down the line and realise you had in mind separate plans. Communication is key here!
Have discussions about this as regularly as possible, as visions and plans can always change. There is something very motivatingabout speaking to your partner about the long term plan that you have agreed on together and how you are working towards it and ways you can perhaps get there quicker.
5. CELEBRATE, COMPLIMENT AND POSITIVITY!
When you hit certain goals, win a big client, have an amazing week or month, whatever it may be – Go out and celebrate together!
When your partner has gone above and beyond, or pushed themselves out of their comfort zone – Compliment each other!
If you are having a bad/negative day, have a conversation to make your partner aware so that they can support and try to help bring back the positivity, or just give you the space you need! We all have down days/moments, but if you keep quiet about it, and end up being snappy, etc – this will create negativity for both of you. Again – Communicate!
Positivity = Productivity 🙂
One of the most common reasons for divorce according to Relate.org.uk is Money Problems.
It is important to have financial goals, as well as back up plans if you aren’t profitable for some time at the beginning or at any point as a business owner. Before you take the risk to start you own business, do you have a back up fund? Can you survive without two salaries if the business takes a while to get off the ground?
Once you do start making profit, what is your plan with this money – save? spend? both?
Have clear financial goals and plans together, so that this isn’t a reason for dispute when these situations arise.
7. CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM
Criticism has to be approached with a lot of thought and care. Some couples may not be bothered by criticising their partner, but you need to remember the affect it can have on someones confidence, mood or feelings. Including feelings towards you, you do not want your partner to eventually resent you because all you do is criticise what they do.
Firstly, does it really matter if that particular task was done in a different way to how you would have done it? Remember, everyone may have a different way or method of doing things, which works for them.
However, if there is good reason for constructive criticism to be used, then knowing your partner, you should know the best way to approach it based on their personality. You may get this wrong the first couple of times, perhaps a conversation of how best to approach these scenarios are needed before hand so you know the best method for them.
Encourage and support! – You are both on equal standing in the business (unless agreed otherwise), you do not want to feel like your partner is your boss. At the same time you shouldn’t feel like you can’t be open and honest with you partner if constructive criticism is required. We are all on paths to better ourself, and should respect other peoples ideas and comments (even if you don’t agree on them), this point shouldn’t be a reason for arguments, but an opportunity to improve yourself.
Starting a business with your partner may be a daunting prospect, but it can actually be a lot of fun and extremely successful if planned for and carried out correctly. Remember, you are in a relationship because you are compatible, that compatibility in a business setting can encourage a very successful running business. Remember – it isn’t for everyone, and sometimes it’s best for your relationship not to put the added strain of running a business on to it, but that is for you both to decide between you.