It’s not uncommon for a husband and wife to build a business together. After all, you’re living in the same world, have many of the same desires and interests, and are both invested in your financial success. But running a company with your spouse comes with challenges. Are you prepared?
Tips for Running a Business Together
For starters, it’s rare that you both have the same expectations and interests. While it’s normal to agree upon certain things upfront, these ideas can quickly become foggy and confusing as time passes. One spouse may become less interested in the business, while the other becomes more focused. There are also challenges when it comes to unplugging from work (since it tends to always be a topic of conversation when the two of you are together).
In addition to big picture challenges, there are lesser concerns, like stepping on each other’s toes or pushing each other’s buttons. The more you’re aware of these risks on the front end, the better your results will be.
Here are several tips for greater success:
Set Clear Vision and Goals
It’s completely unhealthy to be in business together if you don’t both have a clear vision for where the company is going. You need a concrete idea of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what the ultimate hope/outcome is.
Most couples make the mistake of saying something like, “We want the business to be successful.” But what does that really mean? Success is a highly subjective idea that can differ from one spouse to the next.
To you, success might mean having a few steady clients and generating $10,000 in monthly take-home pay for your family. To your spouse, it might mean having an 8-figure business that allows you to live a lavish lifestyle. If the two of you aren’t clear on your goals, it’s impossible to create a unified vision for the company.
Clearly Identify Roles
You might be equals in the sense that you each have a 50 percent ownership stake in the business, but equality doesn’t mean sameness. You each bring different skills and traits to the table. It’s important that you embrace these roles.
If one of you is more personable and outgoing, you might be the figurehead of the business. If the other person is more disciplined and analytical, they might play a strategic role and be more involved in planning. Get clear on what these roles are from the beginning.
Separate Work From Personal Life
This is much easier said than done – but it’s important nonetheless. Make sure you create boundaries so that there is time together outside of work.
For some couples, the rule is that you never talk about the business when you’re at home. Work talk is reserved for the office. Other couples have a rule that there’s no talk of the business around the kids. And it’s a good idea to have at least one date night per month where you only focus on your family and personal relationship.
Prioritize Your Relationship First
Make sure you’re investing in your relationship first and foremost. Celebrate milestones together by giving gifts that represent your love and dedication to one another. For example, you might give your wife a diamond pendant necklace as a way of telling her that you love and appreciate everything she does for the family.
You can’t get so caught up in the stress and hustle of the business that you forget to offer your spouse the support they need (emotionally, physically, relationally, etc.).
One of the big mistakes spouses make is drawing hard lines in the sand and never crossing them. For example, they agree that they treat each other like business partners at the office (not romantic partners). But what happens when you notice your wife break down in tears and storm off to her office after a stressful meeting? A failure to offer the emotional support of a husband at that moment is a big miss. You have to be willing to cross lines when it means providing support.
Adding it All Up
At the end of the day, the key to successfully running a business together as a husband and wife is to communicate clearly. In fact, there’s no other way to make it work. If the communication is poor, the business will be poor. Get on the same page and focus on making both your relationship and business as healthy as can be.