Business & Pleasure Don't Mix, Or Do They? | 5 Crucial Keys to Consider When Working With Your Spouse

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So you’re thinking of working with your partner or perhaps you are already?  While this does seem great to start with, like most new relationships, once that honeymoon period starts to melt away and you’re left in a frenzy of bills to pay, products to provide and customers to keep happy - it can start to put a strain on your relationship.

Having worked with my husband, John, for the past 4 years I’ve come up with some top tips, learned from the mistakes that we made, and that nearly killed our relationship.

1. Be a couple.

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First of all, you need to still make time for yourselves as a couple, away from work.  It doesn’t have to be anything major but schedules at least one period a week where you can do something fun.  A walk in the park or a coffee shop date will do, this is all we could afford in those early, start-up days. Personally, spending time away from my business always helps me to come back feeling refreshed and recharged meaning I can look at a problem from a new angle or think of a new idea to make business better.  If you don’t schedule this time in advance you will end up feeling resentful of your business and the fact that it is taking your partner away from you or vice versa.

2. Identify roles in your business relationship.

Make sure you have clear and defined roles in the business and at home.  Start by making a list of everything that needs to be done in the business and naming a person responsible for that task. One of you could have major control over your website, another role could be being in charge of customer service. When you create set roles not only will your business run smoother, each of you will know what you are supposed to be doing day by day. You'll end up saving time and will not duplicate tasks or forget to complete the most important ones.  If you want to take it a step further, the person in charge gets to make the executive decision in that area.

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5 Crucial Keys to Consider When Working With Your Spouse

I am not saying you can’t help each other out if one of you is behind and need help. But clearing your ‘work water’ from a muddied puddle to a crystal lagoon will help you see where exactly things are going wrong and mean you can save time in the future.  

3. Start thinking differently.

I’m a creative person, my husband is not.  That may sound like a bad thing, but one of the things I love about working with him is that he allows me to dream and think outside of the box, as wildly as I like.  He is much more methodical, which helps make my crazy ideas more actionable. Creative types think very differently from non-creatives.  If you’re anything like me, you have a million things going on all the time. I'm often ready to move onto the next thing before I've finished the current project.  One reason my husband and I work so well together is that he often encourages me to finish things or pick up where I left off. When I implement his ideas - boom, job done - and a 2-week procrastination stint is now nonexistent!  So I encourage you to take the time to learn your partner's strengths and weaknesses.

4. Determine a plan. 

There are two sections of planning here.  The first, what are your life and business goals?  Are you happy working together and earning enough for a comfortable lifestyle in your suburban house? Would you prefer the laptop lifestyle and travel around the world while working on your business? Do you want something in between?  Figuring out these lifelong plans and aspirations gives you something to work toward and will help you focus when you’re up at 4 am and wondering why you’re doing it all.

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The second part of planning is having a ‘get out plan’. You may never need to use it but things can happen.  What if you break up and decide to dissolve the business. What will you do?

It’s a good idea to determine the percentage of the business that each of you will own provided you want to end your business relationship. You'll also need to have a plan on how to move forward with your intellectual property and handling of your customer.  Hopefully, things will never come to this. However, it is very wise to have some sort of document outlining what would happen. Think of it as a business pre-nup. You can do a post-nup too if you are already up and running.

5. Manage your expectations.

Now, the thought of working with your partner may have you daydreaming about enjoying sweet lunches in little pubs and cuddling up in the office answering emails, especially if it's just been an idea. Hate to burst your bubble, but often times, it's not that!  Yes, it is amazing having someone you care about there all the time, after all, they are your biggest cheerleader when something goes right.  But the problems usually start when something goes wrong.  Arguments about who’s at fault and who didn't do their job begin and can escalate quickly. The most important question thing to consider is how to prevent things from going wrong again. 

Arguments with couple-preneurs are usually due to the fact that one party has set their expectations too high and the other party hasn’t met those expectations.  All of us have expectations. It’s apart of our genetic makeup. But if your partner misses the mark, start with gratitude. Be thankful for what your partner has done instead of what they didn’t do according to your standard, and use the opportunity as an opportunity to discuss ways to fix the current problem and avoid future ones related to this particular issue.  That approach has the potential to save both your business and your relationship!

No business nor relationship is perfect 100% of the time.  Think about it this way, if a customer was unhappy, you would do everything in your power to try and fix it wouldn’t you?  So apply the same compassion to your partner, after all, this is your love we're talking about here. It's worth taking the softer approach. 

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Laura Watkins -

Pink She Wolf: The Couple-preneur Coach

After working with my husband for 5 years and running 3 different businesses together, I created Pink She Wolf. I help people who work with their partner realign goals and have an amazing business and personal life.

For more tips on how to work with your spouse, check out Pink She Wolf's free downloadable ‘Get Your Sh*t Together’ Kit which features fill in the blank PDFs & access to their most popular Masterclass: Making #couplegoals work. Get access here!