Many married couples have long established and successfully run family owned businesses. But can partners in life always translate into partners at work or is there a certain formula for success? Let’s get a better understanding of the pros and cons of pairing up in the business world and how best to manage this over time.
Some couples rarely get to spend quality time with each other between different work schedules, time spent commuting, at events, as well as doing personal chores. Working together means spending more time with each other and even though it may be a different type of being together, couples who enjoy each other’s company will certainly enjoy the benefit of more time.
However, like two sides of a coin, a commitment to working together translates into spending up to an extra 40 hours a week or more with your partner. For some this may cross the line and not give them enough time apart. Separate offices or working in different departments can often be a filter to prevent too much time overlap but still give couples added time to spend with each other.
If you’re starting a business with your partner and have found yourself spending 24 hours a day together for weeks on end, take some time alone on weekends or evenings where possible to engage in personal interests and activities to give each other some breathing room. If you have children, alternate the time you spend with them to give each of you some individual down time.
Working with partners also lets you see a whole other side of them, both at their best and worst. This will often help develop your understanding of them and build more respect and appreciation of their merits outside your relationship. Of course it’s important for both of you to commence business with a power-sharing agreement defined by cooperation and consultation, rather than one-sided authority. There are bound to be times when you disagree on business decisions, and it is important here not to let human egos get in the way but rather resolve matters by clearly defined roles and responsibilities that play to each other’s strengths.
Financially, it can be a risk working together if you are putting all your eggs in one basket. This risk is amplified if you are starting a new business together, so it’s important to develop avenues to handle any setbacks. Having a savings fund or a line of credit can give you peace of mind, and a backup plan in case your business plans don’t come to fruition.
Separating work and play is difficult enough for us as individuals, so it’s very important to keep your ability to switch between business and personal atmospheres with your partner. Talking about work at home can often turn your marriage or life partnership into a ‘business agreement’ type of relationship. Learn to switch off and avoid overlap. If you’re annoyed with your partner for not doing a particular chore, that should have no impact on your work relationship. Similarly, agree that you won’t discuss business at home and make an effort to be intimate – a short weekend getaway or a night out every now and again will do wonders for both your relationship and the business.
Above all, remember that your relationship comes first, so if working together is not working for you despite all of the above strategies, one of you may have to consider stepping out in an effort to preserve your relationship, as well as protect your business.