For a single person, starting and running an online business is challenging. Being responsible for all business aspects such as delivering services, completing administrative tasks, and following through with marketing all gets challenging. Just ask us during our free webinar training — it gets challenging to manage a busy online business, but the hard work most definitely pays off. Since it is so much work, it would seem that bringing another person in, such as your spouse, would make things easier. Living under the same roof has its benefits, and together, you can rule the world. Or can you? Unfortunately, the reality is, as much as it is exciting to hit the ground running, there are still a few things to consider before becoming business partners.
1. Extensive communication
Small Business Trends recommends making sure you are always communicating. You both must be on the same page to make sure things get done in a timely matter. It’s essential to separate your marriage from your working relationship. Otherwise, it may prove challenging to get tasks done.
Communication is important in any relationship, and a working relationship is no different. By communicating, you and your spouse can agree on the most important tasks for the day. You each know what the business requires, what your customers need, and what your employees deserve. By working together and making sure you’re on the same page, you present a united from to anyone who comes to you for business.
The blogger on My Wife Quit Her Job discussed how both he and his wife went through some challenging times when they first started working together. However, they figured out a way to work together, and this is what he recommended to make it work:
One of our biggest problems in the beginning was that we were both too opinionated about certain aspects of the business. There was my way of doing things and her way of doing things and no in between. When we discussed our plans of action with each other, we didn’t really listen. What made things worse was the fact that we knew how to push each other’s buttons all too well.
“I would like to organize our inventory this way.”
“I don’t think that your way is the most efficient way. Why don’t we try …blah…blah”
“Can I just do things my way? This is how I want to handle our inventory ok?
“Ok fine. Are you going to organize them as well as you organize your desk? Can you even see your desk under that pile of junk? When was the last time you were able to maintain any sort of organization?”
“Last time I checked, I organized our wedding, but you’re right, perhaps that was a big mistake”
In any case, once things started getting out of control, we sat down and had a long talk. And the outcome of our discussion was that we agreed to make an active effort to not interrupt each other and pay more attention.
Its amazing how well two people can get along by just listening. Amazing…
2. Separate work time from family time
It's vital to separate work time from family time to preserve your sanity, as The Balance Small Business recommends. A work-life balance is a must; otherwise, you’re both going to get burned out and not want to be around one another. Come up with a plan so you can make sure work and family stay separated. Boundaries are important when you’re working together.
Living and working under the same roof with your spouse means it isn’t as easy to go home and shake off the day or create a healthy work-life balance. Especially if you're running your business from home, it's extremely easy to let work life bleed into home life. It's important that you set up boundaries so that your marriage doesn't just become about business. One way to so that is to have a separate home office for each of you. Have a set schedule that work is done, and when the work day is over, focus on the same types of things you would if you had traditional jobs, such as making dinner together and caring for the kids.
Make talk about work off-limits during your non-work time.
3. Be professional about disagreements
You’re still going to argue as co-owners, which is why Forbes says you must be professional when you do get into disputes. Be constructive and come up with a solution that works well for both parties.
Partners in every healthy relationship must learn how to manage disagreements constructively. Office place disagreements can prove difficult for spouses to negotiate as they affect employees and even customers.
“If someone feels differently about a situation, but there's defined swimming lanes, ultimately that person gets to make the call. There's no stepping on toes,” Olivia said. She and Heath always try to solve work issues at the office at the end of the day.
“We’re forced to work it out always because this is our life, both personal and professional. So when we come home, we need to make sure we're talking to each other,” Olivia said.
To this end, Heath recommends treating disagreements in the workplace like two professional colleagues rather than spouses. “Book a meeting with the other person just like you would with another team member,” he said.
“Both parties must prepare for the meeting so they can present (factual) points about why they feel or believe in a different point of view. Quite often this preparation will lead to the right solution.”
4. Joint goals
Each person in the relationship likely has their own goals, but Small Business Trends tells us that you should take the time and come up with some common goals as well. If you’re both on the same track with the same goals in mind, then you’ll be more likely to succeed and keep one another accountable.
When things get tough, refer back to your joint goals. Running a business isn’t easy, and when both you and your spouse are involved, that means your livelihood is hanging in the balance of the business you share.
Instead of letting this fill you with stress and anxiety, instead let it fill you with excitement and passion for the work you do. Be a support for each other, so when one of you gets stressed or worried, the other can remind you why you started.
The Balance Small Business urges married couples to effectively communicate so that they're both on the same page.
Whether someone in the marriage is already involved in the business and you're contemplating bringing on your spouse or you're deciding to start something from scratch together, take the time to discuss the pros and cons of starting a business.
For you and your spouse to be successful in your home business, honest communication is crucial.
5. Set up separate workspaces
Another way to make working with your significant other is setting up different workspaces, or at least that’s what the My Wife Quit Her Job blogger says has worked well for him and his wife.
Not only did my wife and I clash over decision making, but we also physically got in each other’s way around the office. In the beginning, we only devoted a single room to the business. The logistics behind this decision was that we thought being in the same room would foster communication and facilitate open discussion and productivity. Yeah right!
The problem was that the space was so small that the only thing we fostered was arguments. Our respective work spaces were so tight that we literally ran into each other on a constant basis. This caused unnecessary frustration because we both felt extremely claustrophobic.
I remember one particular fight where I accidentally rolled back in my chair and ran over some important documents that were on the floor behind me. The documents weren’t ruined but they did have a feint wheel tread imprinted on them where I had backed my chair.
My wife got really pissed off because she felt the documents were now too dirty to send out. I was mad because she shouldn’t have been putting such important papers on the floor directly behind my chair. Anyways, you get the picture. In the end, we decided to set aside separate work areas for each other (This is a euphemism for I got kicked out of the office).
Entrepreneur also reiterates that setting your workspace up and coming up with a routine can help your working relationship run smoothly.
Have your own working space and routine. Just because you work together doesn’t mean you have to be together all day long — that could be a recipe for disaster in the long run. In the beginning, we had an office and sat next to each other, chatting each time something came up. Over the last five years, we've developed our own rhythm and routine and surprisingly enough, don't interact much during the work day. While that may seem odd, it helps us stay focused on our specific tasks and responsibilities and is ultimately more productive for both of us.
6. If needed, bring in a third party
The Balance Small Business urges significant others who work together to bring in a third party if required. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything together, and if it means bringing in a third person to help with an important decision that’s okay.
Just because it is a family business, doesn’t mean the business operations have to stay strictly between husband and wife. Bringing in a trusted third party to assist with certain areas of the business may take off some of the pressure. This is especially true if there are areas neither of you are knowledgeable about or agree on. A third person can bring more talent to your business, as well as be tie-breaking vote on a decision.
7. Pretend you don’t work together
This tip is easier said than done, but Entrepreneur offers the advice of acting that you don’t work together. Mainly at the end of the day, you should ask one another how your day went and what you can do to improve the following day.
Ask your partner how their day went. Don’t assume that because you are running the company together you’ll each have the same experiences day-to-day. Focus your commentary not on the particular subject but on how your spouse is feeling about it. Try to act as if they've come home from work and you really don't know how their day went and let them talk about it. Be supportive and don’t always try to fix their problems — sometimes we all just need to vent. Lastly, don't talk about work all evening or weekend. This may be the hardest, but most important, thing to do.
A married couple can undoubtedly make a great team who succeeds and develops a profitable business. To make that happen, however, you need to set some ground rules. Join us for our next free webinar training and learn what steps you both can take to achieve your small business goals and hit the ground running as a couple!