Couples Running a Business Together: 6 Tips for Success

Owning a business with your spouse or life partner can be wonderful. You are sharing a passion, working toward a common goal, and working together – or not?!?!

Today’s continued workforce revolution is resulting in more freelance work, self-employment, and small business ventures. Where we work, when, how and why offers all kinds of new possibilities and benefits – including spouses and life partners choosing to work together. To ensure that the joy that brought you together as a couple remains intact as business partners, here are 6 tips for success:

1. Create a Written Contract
Starting and succeeding in a relationship requires work and so does starting and succeeding in business. In both situations, having something in writing that captures who is choosing to do what and why makes good sense. Marriages have contracts and so do business partnerships. For the latter, you’ll want to capture what you both want out of the business individually and collectively and why. You’ll also want to introduce what happens if one of you chooses that they no longer want to work together. For additional information, a Google search for General Partnership Agreements can be useful.

2. Have a Business Plan
There’s an old adage in business: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” While this has held true for centuries, it is still one of the most common areas where business owners fall short. With so many online business planning templates available and software applications, there’s no need to make this same mistake. Have a plan, have it in writing, and use it every 3 to 6 months to compare actual performance against projected performance. To view the most common elements that comprise a solid plan, visit The Business Planning Format.

3. Clarify Distinct Roles
All great teams are made up of individuals who play distinct roles. In football, this includes a quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker. In business, it includes a financial expert, sales and/or marketing person, bookkeeper, and administrator. Identifying what the distinct roles are in your business, why they’re important, and who agrees to do them is essential to success. Useful tools for incorporating this into your winning strategy include using a Functional Task Analysis worksheet to create specific Job Descriptions.

4. Daily Check-Ins
At the heart of success for most solid couples are good communication practices. This includes not going to bed mad, establishing and respecting boundaries, and effective listening skills. While it may sound easy, it isn’t. Our fast-paced, ever-changing lifestyles can make it quite challenging to step back and respect where other people are coming from – particularly when it comes to business. Take time for daily check-ins with each other. Establish a framework where each party shares what they plan to get done that week and then “check-in” routinely to discuss how it’s going. For additional helpful tips to improve your communication skills, check out The Key to Better Communication Starts with Listening.

5. Schedule “Us” Time
All work and no play is no fun. In addition, it can lead to burn out. This is such a common problem today that there are endless books, videos, life coaches and other tools to help individuals attain work-life balance. One of the most common ways to avoid this is to schedule routine date nights. For some fun ideas, check out Redbooks’ 105+ Unique Date Ideas to Jumpstart Your Relationship in 2018.

6. Schedule “Me” Time
Kahlil Gibran said it well, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” Translation: make time for yourself as well. Working together can be wonderful. It can also mean one plus one is way more than two when it comes to the impact of your partnership. Still, it is important to step back and feed your soul now and then too. By remaining grounded on your own, you will be more effective working together as a team.

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