“Will you be able to pull it off?” nagged a little voice inside my head when my husband and I decided to go into business together in 2011.
The decision did come after a lot of thought and brainstorming, planning and strategizing, but still there was this little voice inside that asked repeatedly, “Will it be a happy place to be in?”
Gladly, today, after almost two years of working together, I can say, “Yes, we did pull it off and yes, it is a very happy place to be in.”
However, it certainly isn’t easy and, like every partnership, both partners have to work hard at it. Here are some tips that help me work happily and successfully with my spouse right beside me.
Set Common Goals and Expectations
First things first, know why the two of you are working together. What do you expect to get out of this business? Know your goals and agree on them. That will make decision-making a lot easier down the road.
Better still, write down your goals as you create your business plan. Review and revisit regularly so that the focus stays.
Also, having the right expectations is important. Both of you should be onboard with the business idea and plans. Both should know the financial ramifications of the business. Both should know what to expect should, God forbid, the business fail. Yes, you should both have clear expectations.
Meet Each Other Halfway
Working together is not a power struggle. You’ve got to learn to meet each other halfway most of the time. While there will be instances when tough decisions will need to be made, try not to make every single one into an ego battle.
Also, always, always listen to each other. You’ll be surprised at how many times I’ve gotten a fresh perspective on a blog post or on dealing with a client because I listened.
Give Each Other “Alone” Time
Yes, when you work together, you need to spend time away from one another as well. More than ever. Schedule “me-time” so that you get to give each other some breathing space and probably think over things independently as well.
Mayank, for instance, gets his alone time when he heads out to the gym or to play tennis every morning. Me? I treasure my early morning alone time, as well as the time when both Mayank and Manini, our almost 5-year old, go for her tennis lessons.
Alone time is also important when you’re working on a project and can’t seem to agree. A walk outside on your own or an evening with impartial friends can help you get perspective and “meet each other halfway”.
Spend Some “No-Business” Time Together
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to talk “business” all the time with your spouse. I know it, first-hand. So, we now have weekends (or at least Sundays) when we don’t talk business at all.
We discuss movies, books, our daughter’s latest and funniest, plan a holiday or our retirement, but we DON’T talk shop.
Remember, you’re husband and wife first, business partners second. So, keep that romance alive by spending time away from your business, every now and then.
Work with Each Other’s Strengths and Interests
When you’re married, you tend to complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Don’t let that change when you work together.
Mayank is great with numbers, so he naturally deals with the boring important bookkeeping and invoicing, along with other things. I enjoy writing and networking and so take on those aspects of the job.
Divide responsibilities according to your respective strengths and interests. Life and work will both be simpler.
Partner, Don’t Compete
Finally, always, always partner with each other. You’re not on different teams so don’t compete or try to show each other up, ever. Be respectful. Be sincere. Be a partner.
Share the housework. Team up to take care of the kids. Divide responsibilities.
Yes, working together with your spouse can be enriching, fulfilling and “happily-ever” after. You just have to learn how to make it work, just like you’d do with any other relationship. And honestly, wouldn’t you rather work with someone who really “gets” you? I would. Oh, wait, I do!
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