How to Build a Business with Your Spouse
A strong, healthy relationship with your business partner is important… but what if that person is your spouse?
If you’ve ever listened to the Intentional Advantage Podcast or one of our live planner walkthroughs, you know that inkWELL Press is the product of a family-run business. People always want to know: How do we make it work?
Do you and your spouse work in the same office? Or are you considering starting a business together? We created 3 Keys to Building a Strong Business Partnership for you, and it applies to all kinds of work relationships, no matter 'where' you are in your career right now.
3 Keys to a Strong Business Partnership
Set Clear Boundaries
It’s time to draw the lines. Set and maintain clear boundaries about when and where it's okay to discuss work or work-related topics.
This means that if you're working alongside your partner or spouse, you keep your personal lives at home and your work lives in the office.
But if you’re like most fledgling businesses, your office is at home.
In this case, you and your partner need to iron out the specifics, or work will overtake your lives. Create an office or work zone that you and your spouse use specifically for the business. Whether it’s the garage or a converted bedroom, this workspace should be as separate as possible from where you eat meals or gather with kids and extended family.
When your business is at home, clear boundaries are both physical and emotional. If you can stick to them, you will feel more focused during work times and will discover a work-life balance that suits you.
Keep Communication Respectfully Open
We all know that communication is vital to any healthy relationship but keeping the lines of communication open is especially vital when it comes to building a strong business partnership--no matter who it is you're working alongside. The moment your communication falls apart is the moment you run into some serious trouble.
On that same note, being respectful when you're communicating with your business partner, team members, or anyone else is also essential. Your business and ability to scale it successfully depends on how healthy your foundation is, and communication is a big part of that! Without mutual respect, your efforts to communicate won't get you nearly as far as you'd like.
In summary, be respectful of those you work alongside, be open, and be honest, no matter what.
Keep Your Differences in Mind and Play to Your Strengths
To make it work, you and your partner must understand your respective roles within the business you're looking to grow. That means you each need a title and you need to stick to them. This makes it easier for team members (or future team members) to follow you.
In public, especially when you meet other business owners and leaders, include your titles when you introduce yourselves. You will always have separate roles when it comes to your business, even though your partnership at home is on equal footing. This may take a little getting used to.
If you haven’t already, create a list of your personal strengths and abilities. Does your role within the company reflect these? Ideally, the different things that you and your business partner do should play to your unique strengths and differences, without crossing any boundaries or damaging your existing relationship.
An official hierarchy helps create a degree of harmony that you'll need to truly be successful.
In 2019, a reported 5 million small businesses were listed as family-owned. No one will ever tell you that running a business with your spouse is easy, but if you establish clear boundaries, communicate openly, and establish your role, you’ll will be off to a healthy start!
– Adapted from Intentional Advantage podcast Episode 186