Whenever I ask married couples what it's like being in business together, I hear two extremes: they either love it or they hate it. The good news is, those who love it are generally able to run successful, thriving enterprises while remaining happily married. The bad news is, those who despise being in business with their spouse usually end up closing up shop, and possibly even getting divorced. The stakes are high, and in my experience, there isn't much middle ground.
That being said, if you're thinking about going into business with your significant other, know that it is 100 percent possible to do so successfully. You're just going to have to work together and be extremely open to compromise. To get started, here are four things to do immediately to set your business up for success (and keep your marriage intact).
#1: Discuss your visions for the future.
Take 30-60 minutes each to write down your visions for the business. What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals? Where would you like the business to be in five years? Then take turns sharing what you wrote. If your visions are similar, great! If they're vastly different, talk it out and compromise until you're both on the same page. From this unified vision, create shared objectives for what you want to achieve in the business that you can both be inspired and excited about.
#2: Clearly define your roles and responsibilities.
This step begins with each of you writing down your top five strengths and the top five things you hate doing or don't know how to do, such as scheduling or sales calls. From there, you can carve out the roles and responsibilities to leverage each other's strengths and expertise. Make an agreement to respect each other's role and expertise and stay out of the day-to-day execution of them.
What will also result from this exercise is a list of tasks you can outsource or delegate. It is critical to delegate or outsource the tasks neither of you like or can do well so that these tasks actually get done and don't drive the two of you crazy because they keep showing up on the to do list.
#3: Set definitive money rules.
Money arguments are one of the leading causes of marital problems and can carry over into your business. Determine how money decisions will be made within the company to include handling expenses, pricing, and salaries. Maybe you'll be in charge of one area of the business and your spouse will be in charge of another. Or maybe you'll decide that any expense under $5K can be made without the other person's input, but if it's over $5K you need to make the decision together. Whatever you decide, make sure it's something you're both comfortable with.
#4: Create a conflict resolution strategy.
The type of disagreements you have at home will undoubtedly show up in your business. Figure out early on how you'll handle disagreements in the business. One of my favorite strategies is to keep a log of every time you get upset. Mark the date, what happened, and how it made you feel. If something keeps making you upset, it may be time to discuss it with your spouse. If it was a one-time thing, decide to let it go. I also recommend implementing a "deal with it and then drop it" rule! Whenever you and your spouse deal with an issue, resolve it and then drop it for good.
And finally, remember to have fun together! Above all else, growing a business is an exciting and fun venture with the ability to bring you and your spouse even closer together. Enjoy it!
I want to hear from you! What do you think contributes to running a successful business with your spouse? Leave your answer in the comment box below!