Business partnerships can be tricky. So can marriage partnerships.
Then why did I choose to go into business with my husband?
For the answer let’s go back a little. Chris and I chose to start our own business, Unleashed Online Media, 4 years ago for a simple reason. Chris had more clients at his ‘side job’ then he did at his day job.
At the time it was a no brainer. We thought that with a young, growing family what could be better than flexible hours and full control over your projects.
During our first several years in business I stayed in the background. Helping where I could, while spending most of my time finishing off my master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and taking care of our kiddos. It was often a roller coaster ride as we navigated the challenges of running a business, raising a family and for me starting a new career as an Occupational Therapist.
A year into a demanding health care job, Chris made me a proposal that I couldn’t refuse. Come join him and help manage the rapidly growing business. While I had been focused on my own career, Unleashed Online Media had grown into a thriving company that was in need of someone who understood the vision and trajectory from the beginning.
I accepted Chris’s proposal because I knew we would make a good team. We discovered that out over 11 years ago when we met working at a summer camp (romantic- I know). As a team we have been able to adeptly manage a business and a family. Not with out our share of mistakes but with overall success.
How do we do that you ask? Check out my 7 Tips below.
7 Tips for Working with your Spouse – While Continuing to Stay Married
1. Find Time to be Married – NOT Co-workers -HINT- Go on a date. Play some Mini Golf and forget about your troubles for an hour.
2. Clearly Define Work-Life Boundaries - Small business owners are notorious for having a horrible work-life balance. But being married to your business partner makes this doubly important. Decide what you and your spouse think is appropriate and stick to it. Is it okay to work nights, weekends? Every couple is going to find a system that works for them. The important thing is consistency and communication.
3. Communicate Clearly with your Employees - They need to know the rules of your partnership and how they fit into the picture. They also need to know who is the boss. It is not helpful to have 2 CEO’s. Determine who is skilled at leadership and delegate accordingly.
4. Communicate clearly with one another - Things move quickly in business and in family life. It is very important that you communicate with your partner. Text, e-mail, chat, call, or better yet, set aside time weekly to meet and talk. This is different than a date. This is a time to talk as business partners and make sure your vision and goals align.
5. Clearly Define your Roles in the Business – Find your strengths and play to them. It may help to hire a business coach to help determine where your strengths lie and how to best utilize them.
6. Excel at Forgiveness – Mistakes happen at home and in business. Be in the business of making the marriage work first, and understand that a huge measure of grace is needed for the long haul.
7. Have Outside Relationships - Spending all day and all night with your spouse can add up to too much together time. Nurturing friendships is important in general, and it can help bring more interesting things to the ‘How was your day?’ conversation than if you’ve already spent all day together.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned as I continue to find my way in the business and hopefully maintain a healthy relationship with my husband.