Going into business with your spouse can be an exciting prospect. At the same time, there are challenges associated with working alongside your romantic partner. Before you embark on this step of your relationship, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons so you can decide if it’s the right decision for both of you, and for your business together. Discover the disadvantages of working with your spouse — as well as advice on overcoming them — so you can make sure you’re both on the same page moving forward into the business world together.
Give One Another Space
The biggest hurdle associated with starting a business with your spouse is that you’re going to be around one another frequently — at work and at home. Even the happiest couples need time apart, and working with someone who also shares your home can make it difficult to find some alone time. To combat this common pitfall, give one another plenty of breathing room during the workday. For example, you don’t need to take every lunch break together. You can also work from separate offices in different parts of the building so you have a place to retreat when you feel like working on your own. Acknowledge that spending time alone is healthy and that it doesn’t mean your love is weakened in any way.
Pay Attention to Strengths and Weaknesses
When choosing a business partner in a traditional sense, you have the luxury of selecting someone who has skills, traits, and experiences that complement your own. When you’re partnering with your spouse, what you see is what you get (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). Because you already know one another so well, you can acknowledge your positive contributions and your shortcomings, then use that knowledge to figure out what works. For example, if your spouse is shy, you may need to handle public speaking engagements.
Be open with one another, and discuss various aspects of the business where you think the other would thrive. Over time, you’ll discover one another’s strengths and weaknesses, which helps you fall into your individual roles organically. Speed up that process by having open discussions and delegating responsibilities accordingly. You can also help one another improve at performing tasks that are unfamiliar or even uncomfortable to one person but not the other.
Put the Relationship First
When your personal relationship falters, your business follows. Working with a significant other means that disagreements are going to happen eventually. Don’t let your professional goals put a damper on your personal life. Relationships take work and effort, whether it’s romantic or professional, so incorporate the same dedication you put into your relationship at home into your business partnership. When something is bothering you, discuss it. Be ready and willing to compromise. Keep the lines of communication open, and always remember that love takes precedent over business. Never take work disagreements home with you, and never take home disagreements to work with you.
Show Professional Respect
Remember that your spouse is your business partner, and treat them accordingly. If you wouldn’t say something to a traditional partner, don’t say it to your spouse. Mutual respect is absolutely crucial in a spousal work environment. Even a subtle tone or facial expression that the average employee wouldn’t pick up on can be detected by your partner, so make it a point to give the professional courtesy that’s expected in any business setting.
Balance Your Personal and Professional Lives
Running a business is a time-consuming endeavour. One of the advantages of working with your spouse is that you can spend more time together. However, if you’re both workaholics, that time spent may not be healthy for the long-term relationship. Make sure you continue to spend quality non-work-related time together. Go on dates and trips, and avoid discussing business. Romantic relationships may not be profitable monetarily, but there are other emotional and romantic benefits that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Finding a suitable work-life balance can be challenging even for individuals, so you need to put in extra effort when there are two people involved.
It’s normal to want to protect the feelings of your significant other, but sometimes you’re going to need to be direct and speak your mind. If you think an idea is bad, say so. Being willing to compromise is essential, but simply giving in to prevent an argument is only going to lead to problems and resentment down the road. Communication is a two-way street, so in addition to being willing to speak up, you must also be willing to take criticism. Try to avoid power dynamics, instead putting your heads together to achieve your common dreams. Compromise when it makes sense, but don’t let your vision become clouded by your desire to keep your partner happy.
The Benefits of Working With Your Spouse
Working with your romantic partner can be a truly wonderful experience. After all, you married that person for a reason — because you love them and you’re compatible. Besides the obvious advantages, such as being able to work alongside the person who means the most to you, working with a spouse can give you a serious edge over your competition. You may be a force on your own, but as a team you can be unstoppable. If you share the same common goals and aspirations, dividing the workload among two people makes things run easier and smoother for both of you.
Another major benefit is that many people just like family businesses. You may find that some customers, clients, and other business associates prefer to work with you simply because they appreciate the dynamic. Always do your best to lift one another up and keep the work environment positive. As long as you’re both willing to put in the effort, building a company with your romantic partner can be the best decision you both ever make.