Today is not uncommon to see married couples owning a successful business and working together. Some people would say “NO WAY, I couldn’t work with my spouse, we would kill each other!”, but I strongly believe that having a happy marriage first, can lead to healthy business second.
Hundreds of years ago, it all started with family farms, and artisan businesses where husbands, wives and their children all worked together. After the industrial revolution the “working family” dynamic changed and individualism was borne.
Today, running a business together is either the best thing that can happen to a couple, or the worst!
Being able to successfully work with your spouse depends on many factors. For most people it isn’t easy, but if you decide to do it, make sure you have at least these 5 things in common with each other:
1.Have the same vision for the company
2.Respect each other
3.Be equally committed to the business and household chores
4.In roles suited for each other
5.Know how to shut off
Couples who run businesses successfully together need to have the same vision for where the company is going, or at least agree that one of them is the “boss” and determines the vision. A house divided is not able to stand – it’s as true in business as it is in life.
But being “the Boss” when your spouse is an employee is a double edged sword. You may think that you have the power at work, but just you wait until you get home. The tables can easily be turned, which is why having respect for each other – in the workplace, kitchen or out at a social event – is absolutely key.
If you and your spouse are both working in the business, then you need to agree how much time each of you are also going to spend on domestic chores. If you both work equal time in the business, then you should put equal time into the home.
Playing to each others strengths is one of the core pillars of any marriage, but when it comes to the workplace, it’s even more important for spouses to understand each others strengths and weaknesses. Simon is great with numbers, analysis and strategy. I’m more of a people person, so I’m in charge of setting appointments and networking opportunities. Some things neither of us like or are good at so we outsource them – bookkeeping for instance. Just be aware that people have different gifts and gaps. Much like anyone else, your spouse isn’t a superhero, so don’t expect them to be. Overtime we have learnt what each others strengths and weaknesses are. We build on our strengths and try and mitigate our weaknesses.
Finally, now that our company has grown and our business has evolved, working together helps us cultivate a much better work-life balance. I can take care of our kids in the morning and come into work later. But doing this type of work takes discipline and and it’s a trait you need to share as a couple. It is important that we see eye to eye on this. I love it when we can sneak in a lunch between clients, because we understand how important it is to find time for just the two of us. But we also know work time is work time and the more “play” gets into work, the more work gets into the personal part of your life. So focus on work and respect each others boundaries, and the quicker you get things done the quicker you get to play.
If you are struggling with a spousal dynamic in the workplace give Jager a call. We know how to help – because we’ve been there. (440) 385-6737