What Happens When No One’s on Top (in the Business)

All month we’ve been talking about working and owning a business with your partner—from what issues to watch for to how to handle whoever takes the top executive position.

But more often than not, running a business with your partner means both are in top-level positions, with each person—hopefully—heading up whatever fits his or her skill set.

If that’s the case, then you’ll be spending many, many hours together, so what do you need to keep in mind? What problems could arise? What could you do to avoid those pitfalls?

Here’s our top 5 tips to help you and your partner effectively work together to guide your business to more and more success. And most importantly, keep your relationship in a good place!

When spouses work together, make sure to define roles.

1. Clearly define your roles and stay on the same page

As we discussed in the first post this month, it’s important to define who will handle what part of the business so there’s no confusion on the part of the staff. But more than that, you don’t want to double up the work—especially in the early days of the business when you might be putting in long hours to keep the lights on.

You’d hate to both approve an invoice (what if gets paid twice?) or give competing feedback to an employee. It could make things not only difficult for anyone working for both of you but cause frustrations to bubble up between you and your partner.

Plus, nothing makes a team more nervous than to hear two versions of where the company is going or even to receive approval from one side and no from the other.

2. Celebrate the wins for each person

If one of you brings in a big client or scores a massive sale, celebrate it! Remember, it’s not a competition, a win for your partner is a win for you and the business you are growing together.

Even if it’s just the two of you at the beginning of your company, have a beer after work. On the other end, if the two of you are heading up a large business, and one of you cleans up an inefficiency that saves hundreds of dollars, spring for a special dinner out.

Don’t forget to schedule “we” and “me” time.

3. Schedule time apart and together as a couple

When your work hours bleed into your personal time, and it’s going to happen when you own a business together, then it’s important to arrange scheduled breaks. These breaks include both time apart and time together—as a couple, not business partners—that doesn’t involve any company talk.

For the times apart, this might mean that you can’t call the person with any work issues, or you make the person taking time off switch off his or her phone. Same goes for couple time—focus on your relationship and enjoy the uninterrupted time, remembering why you’re a couple in the first place. Put regular date nights on the calendar, and keep them!

4. Talk out your frustrations—don’t let it fester!

Another important tip to bear in mind as you and your spouse navigate working together is to talk out any frustrations. Leave it all on the table.

If any other co-worker was causing you grief or making the same mistake over and over, you’d discuss it and figure out how to move forward in a professional manner.

Doesn’t your partner deserve the same respect? Plus, things will run much smoother both at work and at home if you just get it off your chest.

Celebrate awards and big wins together as partners.

5. The language of WE

The same idea of a win for you is a win for us in your business applies to this idea as well. If the business receives an award or makes a presentation that results in landing a new account, then the win should be considered a group effort. “We” did the work to deserve this honour, or “we” put in the long hours on the PowerPoint and research that tipped the new client in “our” favour.

“We” run the business together, so “we” need to celebrate the successes together.

While working with your partner might mean long hours together and ups and downs both in your business and personal lives, don’t worry, we see plenty of great examples of couples who team up and run very successful businesses (and still have a great relationship!).

Is Your Business Facing Any of These Issues?

There are 3 areas you need clarity to solve the issues we’re discussing this month.

1.        Vision
2.        Values
3.        Role clarity and KPI success factors