Before our businesses had shareholders, staff, SLA’s and all the other responsibilities that take you from a micro business to something much bigger there was myself, my wife and a few contractors running the show.
This was an immense time of learning for the both of us not only about how to run a business but how to work together.
If any business owner has told you to never work with your “life” partner believe them because it can get extremely hard. However like most micro and small business in New Zealand it’s very common to share the same bed with your business partner.
For those of you that are in this situation here are some tips we learned – the hard way.
Have separate roles in the business
This is the most important tip I can give you. Remember that your business relationship also includes emotion and a deeper level of knowledge about each other, which is a volatile combination. You will want to prove to each other that you can make this a success.
Doing your partners task without their approval feels like there is a trust issue and that can prove deadly in this situation. A personal relationship hardly survives an issue with trust and it now extends to your business as well.
Have one day where you don’t talk about work
Telling people not to talk about work outside work hours is impossible in this situation. All successful businesses were started by people that are passionate about their business and unfortunately you have the ear of your business partner 24×7!
Set 1 day a week where its taboo to talk about work. Now if this requires that you spend time away from your partner then do it.
Why not visit some friends who you know are sick of hearing you two talk about work and will force you to talk about something else.
If you don’t have at least 1 day as “husband and wife” then you will burnout and possibly turn your relationship into a platonic one.
Try and include another person in your in-house meetings
You know each other intimately and there will be times where arguments step over the normal business partner lines and stray into the personal stuff. If you have a third person attending the in-house meetings then you and your partner will be less inclined to drop in “below the belt” comments if the meeting starts getting heated.
Set goals and constantly refer to them
There will be times that your business will cause you and your partner immense stress so its important that you two constantly talk about your goals and remind yourselves why you are putting your relationship through this.
If you have no clear goals and exit strategy then how can either of you focus on the future and reflect on the rewards all this hard work will bring?
At the end of the day its important to accept that having your life partner as your business partner will fundamentally change your personal relationship. Make sure you and your partner understand and accept this.