How to manage starting a business with your husband or significant other?
Like many advise against going into business with your friends, I'm sure they advise against going into business your husband. Too late, I already did! We started our own Vermont Maple Syrup product line in Florida where we live and we hope to expand in the south. While I love him very much, it can be difficult to leave our work at work at the end of the day. How do you manage a work / life balance when your work and personal life overlap so often?
Going into business with friends and family (usually people you like) sounds like a great idea. Then a difference of opinion occurs, and it is difficult to handle the situation professionally and calmly as you would if you weren't related to your coworkers. The Business.com team recently published an article on Tips for Keeping the Peace When Working with Family.
The article addresses how to navigate relationships that are both personal and professional. There are precautions you can take to avoid common conflict scenarios that come up when working with family.
Most importantly, remember to leave your work at work. Good luck!
As an author and trainer, I have helped a few gals in this area to transform this mentality with rituals and routine. What are you doing to remind him that you are his wife?
Have a plan for your business! Build the plan together, resolve all the important issues early. Document your Role Descriptions so there is clarity of responsibility. Come together regularly to report on your area of responsibility. Be prepared for the "hard" questions and be prepared to ask the hard questions. Finally "make it legal"! Have a lawyer draw up a Partnership Agreement. Do this while you agree because when you don't agree then it is too late!
I agree with few of the comments on the 'balanced things'... what does balance means to you both anyway? I would tell this is more of planning how to put family and relationships first because everything will follow through better. Lots of women and men have recognized this. Best family business owners do. If I were in that situation again, knowing my husband character and personality, I will plainly tell him, "hey you know what? I still love chocolate, flowers, and ... let's get out for a second" and that will serve as a good foundation to establish a critical conversation and see how the situation is really impacting us as partners. Lots of married business partners find it great to be under certain stress on the job and have even scheduled things out to released that stress. And talking about schedules is another thing - some do great or not without them. Keep passionate but make sure you both are passionate most of the time on the same things. Speak up, because assuming does not help anyone.
As our office was home based we would schedule meetings together outside the house. At a local cafe or restaurant that had booth seating so we had some privacy and wifi. Also we agreed to travel to and from the meeting in separate cars so that we weren't tempted to carry on the conversation and we both had some thinking time and so that when we stepped back in the door we were Mum and Dad again. Just as you would if you came home from a different work place.
Good luck and have a great Christmas.
Regards, Sian Goodbourn
Identify clearly your roles in the business, define them, then respect the boundaries that you have created. This is actually the single most important piece of advice that I regularly give to most partnerships, regardless of personal involvement.
A lot of business stumble on the too many cooks problem, not because they have too many staff, but because the staff they have are interfering in each other's roles.
If you both have very clearly defined roles based on identified strengths you will cut out a lot of disagreements, which is largely where negative "Taking work home" comes from.
The positive discussions about how to expand what you are doing, as long as your not butting heads too often, I wouldn't worry about. It's part of the great joy of being in business with someone you love...
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I run a small tech startup with my wife. Starting up is naturally uncertain which can make it hard to stop thinking about work at the end of the day. Sharing the burden together is good but comes with the tradeoff that when times are stressful we can't "escape" into each other. Trying to partition our time between work and life doesn't work well for us - it just results in keeping our thoughts in our heads. Our solution is to put each other's stress first: rather than ban work talk after a certain time, if either of us is focussing on a problem we both focus on it until we've solved it or put a plan in place that we can trust. Good luck!
LEAVE WORK AT THE OFFICE WHEN YOU LEAVE THE OFFICE! Otherwise hire a good divorce lawyer. It may be hard, but it's the only way to survive. My wife and I have been in business for 20+ years. I learned early on and hold it true today. I didn't follow my advice the first time, and divorced!
It's difficult to "not talk" about what you are passionate about - with your best friend. You've started your own business because you love what you are doing, and you are doing it with someone you love. Therefore, my recommendation isn't to fight the desire to talk about things you love. Unlike a regular "work-day" - your work is tied to your passion. One recommendation is to forget about leaving work at work -- instead agree not to talk about work at certain personal locations. For instance (pick one or more):
In the bedroom
At the dinner table when eating with the kids
When you are at your children's events
A balance work/life strategy doesn't mean separating work from your personal life. The core concept behind "work/life balance" is just being fully in the moment at any given time.
Isolating specific events that you deliberately want to focus on something other than work - will allow you to keep your work/life balance strategy while still being enthusiastic about your life choices.
When you are at your children's dance recital - you want to be fully in that moment and taking in your children's talent and growth. When you are sharing important topics with your loved ones at the dinner table - you want to be fully in that moment. When the children are at the table, you want to focus on their stories. When it's just you and your partner - who is to say that sharing news about the projects you are most passionate about don't belong as part of those moments?
My wife and I have been partners in our residential rental properties business for the past 28 years. First there are clear roles and responsibilities for each of us, although sometimes we need to be flexible. We certainly don't talk business everyday, only when there is a need for consultation and/or sharing of info. Plus we have a team of dedicated associates who help us when we are off on vacations.
There are certainly some arguments and disagreements. However, there is always respect, trust and love as our solid foundation. And it works well for us.