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Are you thinking about starting, or do you already have a business with your romantic partner? Are reported that 43% of small businesses in America are considered “family businesses”, 53% of which are run by spouses.
I’ve been running my boutique transformation agency, Be Courageous, for six years with my wife, Jenna. While it may be a terrible idea for some, for us it has been a ticket to a deeper connection and professional freedom.
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One love, one business, one life
When you start a business, especially with a life partner, we’ve noticed that work is no longer ‘a job’. Running a family business is more of a lifestyle than a job.
We do not draw a hard line between work and home, because what we work for in our company is also what we work for in life. Our mission in life – to help others become their most courageous and calm selves – aligns with what we do for a living. Hopefully, the business you start or have started with your partner feels more like a personal goal too. That feeling helps you through the days when it seems impossible to get everything done.
Related: The Dos and Don’ts of Involving Family in Your Business
To protect your marriage And business, have this conversation
Ask the questions below to make your business and marriage run more smoothly. Be honest – now is not the time to say what you think the other person wants to hear.
- How do we envision our work and personal lives merging (or not merging?)
- How do we imagine balancing life between work and romance? The work will inevitably take several days, so if one of you needs more personal connection time, how should that person address it to the other?
- What will our dynamics be like during the working day? I love connecting personally with my wife during the workday to make sure life isn’t just work. But other people may have different modes or boundaries at work. There is no right or wrong here as long as expectations are set and agreed upon.
- Is it okay for us (in general) to talk about work at the dinner table or on dates? Work is 100% discussed in conversation. Being alone on a date night, away from the company and the kids, is often a rare opportunity to get your partner’s attention. Jenna and I spend a set amount of time on these scenarios. As soon as we draw the line at the end of the work call, Jenna leans over, takes my hand and says, “Hello!” as my wife and not as my work partner. I love this moment.
Then schedule regular contact with your partner (Jenna and I meet weekly). This may sound like an exaggeration, but I assure you it isn’t. Life moves fast with a family and a business, and you don’t want a year to go by without you checking in with your most important person. If your relationship, whether as a business partner or as a romantic partner, suffers, it will affect the other aspects of your life as well.
With four kids and a business, we can’t afford to waste time or energy letting problems drag on or grow. We ask where we all need support. We share observations and update our way of working where necessary. I suggest meeting on Friday to celebrate the end of the week together!
Related: What You Need To Know To Run A Successful Family Business
Six tips for running a successful business And relation
1. Create a shared calendar and schedule everything. The days fly by in the blink of an eye and it’s useful to see what you all have on your plate. When we feel like we’re overdoing it with work, kids, or any other facet of life, we add time to the calendar for romance or connection.
Relationship tip: If you’re asking for more connection with your partner, address it in a style of “I miss you” versus “You don’t make time for me in our romantic lives,” which puts your partner in a defensive position.
2. Clarify what hat you’re wearing. The different roles we play are like ‘hats’ we wear. So when you’re having dinner together, ask your partner if it’s okay to put on your “work cap” before sharing your latest business ideas. Respect that the other person may not be in the same mode. If your partner doesn’t feel like changing hats, see tip #1 about planning. Launching a work idea when your partner has a romantic candlelight evening in mind is like showing up to a black tie event in a Halloween costume. Read the room and ask.
Relationship tip: One trick Jenna and I use is to say “Game on!” as signal we go into working mode. It’s simple, but just by saying those words out loud, we can switch from romantic to business partners.
3. Check in on each other’s day. While we know more about each other’s day than the average couple with jobs at different companies, sometimes we don’t How each other’s day.
4. Maintain professionalism. We never take our clients for granted and never allow our personal life to seep in. We appear with confidence, clarity, focus and professionalism.
5. Check any arguments at the work door. Don’t forget that your partner has one co-worker and excellent at what they do, so create an atmosphere where they can shine.
6. Build at least one connecting anchor in your day. We always know we have “us” time when we wake up and at night before we go to sleep. Knowing that you have that to look forward to on a regular basis will help your relationship flourish.
The biggest challenge of running a business with your partner
My biggest challenge in running a business with my spouse is not taking constructive criticism personally. Every COO and CEO do performance reviews with their team. But when you’re staring across the desk at the person you want to impress the most, and they say to you, “Please get me your expense reports on time,” it’s hard not to take that personally . It helps wearing your professional hat not to mix anything that you think is wrong in the relationship. For example, never say, “You’re always late filing expense reports, which isn’t surprising since you never schedule a date for us.”
Related: How to Receive Constructive Feedback Effectively
The benefits of doing business together
The gifts of running a business together are plentiful. I love putting our company in the hands of the same person I trust with my and our children’s lives. I love admiring my partner as I watch her shine at work.
Jenna and I can often sidestep problems that “just colleagues” have due to a lack of understanding. We are extraordinarily closer than most couples we know because our work is not a separate entity from each other.
Should you start a business with your romantic partner?
Only start a business with your romantic partner if you Real dig them, not just as your love interest, but as a human being. Think about whether you are going to collide or cooperate. If you don’t fully respect your partner, don’t go, I repeat, no business with him or her. But if you do, I highly recommend it as an extraordinary experience!