It’s not unusual for people to meet, fall in love and tie the knot through working at the same place. It’s also not unusual for spouses to decide to start a business together, or for one spouse to join the other in a business.
But like anything with your partner, working together for hours on end each week in addition to home life creates both good and bad issues.
This month we’re going to break down all the pros and cons of working with your partner—from what’s good and bad to dealing with who’s boss. So stay tuned!
For this week’s post, we’re tackling what can go wrong AND what can go right when both sides work under the same roof..
Running a business together can be extremely rewarding and give you some amazing rewards, but both of you will need to be careful to avoid hard and awkward situations like the following.
Performing the same role: When the roles of each person or owner are not clearly defined, it often leads to problems within the company. For example, if you don’t know that you do marketing and sales while your spouse handles HR and finance, then staff won’t be clear on who to talk to when there are questions or worse, they will play one off against the other.
Lack of organisational structure: Another related problem is a lack of an org chart—who reports to who, who approves what, etc.—then it can cause issues. Staff members don’t know who to ask for final approval on their projects, or they have to ask both and might get conflicting answers.
Competition between partners: This issue can come in the form of “fighting” over preferred staff, trying to top the other person in sales or even just wanting to outdo one another in meetings.
Bringing work home: One of the hardest things to do when you own a company together or even just work in the same company is to switch off when you walk through your front door. It’s easy to spend time trying to solve an issue you had at work with an employee over dinner rather than talking about the news or personal topics. It’s also easy to feel like you have nothing to talk about since you shared your day.
Bringing personal problems to work: The flip side holds true, too. You’ll need to switch off at work on any fights, lingering nits or even family problems when you enter the office. The workplace, even if you own the business, is not the place to hash out your issues with each other. Plus, any staff you have can be made to feel very uncomfortable.
Not sharing vision for company: If one of you wants to grow the company and bring more products to market for example while the other one wants to keep things small and manageable (perhaps only work a few days a week), then it’s hard for staff members to figure out what the direction of the company is.
Hard to swallow when mistakes happen: When a coworker makes a mistake, you could often grumble about it to your partner after the work day. However, if you work together and it’s your spouse that made the error, then sometimes it’s a lot harder to forgive and forget AND not bring home your frustration as standards may be set even higher.
When the going gets tough: If the business isn’t working out the way you hoped or even if this quarter’s sales are making it tough to make ends meet, that can be very difficult on your relationship. There’s only one business providing your income, which can be extremely stressful. If the business runs into legal problems or other issues, then it’s up to both of you to fix it.
But don’t despair, I know lots and lots of successful couples in life and love.
Remember, we’re talking about the bad, ugly and GOOD, right? So here are the positive parts of working with your spouse.
Someone’s got your back: When you go home, you’re not just telling your love about your day, but rather you’re talking with your business partner who knows exactly what you’re going through everyday. If there’s a people problem or an issue at work, you’ve got someone who truly gets it.
Easily manage cash flow around payroll: When you’re in business with someone who is just a co-worker, you are responsible each and every week for making payroll and looking at competitive salaries and potential salary increases. When you are in business together, you have more flexibility in hours and both tend to understand if you need to take a paycut, aren’t able to provide either of you a payrise and/or choose to reinvest back in the business.
Two people in one role: When it’s just one business owner, there might be times when that person thinks, “I just wish I could give this to someone else.” However, if you and your spouse match up and compliment different business skill sets, say one person is good at finance, operations and day-to-day details while the other person is better at big picture thinking and marketing, then you’ll actually tick all the boxes of what a business owner needs to do. The bonus is you’ll get to spread the work between two people and be able to go a bit deeper into areas!
Second person for team to talk to: For staff, the result of two business owners might mean there’s one person that has a management style they prefer or someone they feel more comfortable venting to then the other. It might help retain staff to have more than one option for a manager.
You can combine two loves together: Imaging having your personal accountability group/coach or mentor around all the time. When you need a pick me up – they are right there. How much more could you get done? As a business owner, you can also fall in love with your business and want to talk about it all the time and friends or family don’t necessarily want to hear you rabbit on. This way, you get to talk to someone who is hopefully equally passionate about it. It CAN also mean that you can be more flexible with time out the of business for holidays or weekends away to balance out personal time as well (to note however, this can also have the opposite effect).
There are 3 areas you need clarity to solve the issues we’re discussing this month.
3. Role clarity and KPI success factors
Get in touch for a complimentary 30 minute strategy call to help.