While you might be thinking that having your real life partner as your professional partner will be great, there are pitfalls that can lead to a failed company and the end of your relationship. Keeping your business and your relationship running smoothly relies on a number of tactics that involves both members of your team. If you’re currently running a company with your partner, or plan to start one in the near future, check out some of these top tips that will help you run a profitable, thriving endeavor together.
1. Make Time to Unplug
You don’t want to transform your relationship from one that was about the two of you to one that is strictly about work. There should be some time every single day for both of you to unplug. You need to distance yourself from work responsibilities and sometimes, even from each other. Consider prioritizing tasks work typically takes you away from and keeping your free time completely free. Turn off your phone and ignore your email for a little while every day. When you both have some time off together, reinforce the love and common ground that first brought you together by doing non-work-related things just for fun.
2. Separate and Mostly Equal
Working together means separating responsibilities and taking on the tasks that play to your strengths. There’s no need for both of you to be working on the same departments if one of you is significantly better at it! It also prevents one person from trying to do everything themselves and saves you from stepping on each other’s toes and causing unnecessary tension. Some people are just better at the analytical, efficient elements, while others prefer handling the more creative, messy, idea-driven parts of the company. Delegation is one of the most important strategies of a successful business.
You may also want to consider creating physical separation as well. Giving each partner their own workspace helps you avoid distractions when you’re at your most stressed out and prevents any fights that are born out of frustration with your partner’s habits.
3. Keeping Communication Open
Your partner can’t read your mind — especially not after you’ve separated out tasks and created your own personal workspaces. Daily meetings to discuss important progress, point out new trends in your industry, bring up concerns, and explore new ideas are an essential part of open communication. These types of meetings allow your partner to weigh in and expand on ideas you’re toying with, develop preemptive strategies for any growing problems, and give each of you a chance to catch up on aspects of the business that may not be in your purview.
You can also discuss life plans outside of the professional during these times and ensure you have a set part of every day to prioritize things like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, paying bills, and more. You may want to take this a step forward and end each meeting with a little bit of gratitude for each other. Just throw out one compliment or point out a single instance in the past day that made you grateful for your partner.
4. Putting the Business in a Prenup
Whether you started the business together or one of you came on board later, creating a game plan for its sale, its dissolution, or the unfortunate circumstance of divorce is crucial. You don’t want to be caught off-guard in any of these situations.
Many women today are starting companies right out of college (fashion and social media management is especially lucrative), and are bringing their husbands on board after the fact. When things happen that threaten a business, emotions get involved and bad decisions are inevitable. Ensure everyone gets a fair share of the work they put in by designing an exit strategy when everyone is calm and rational. These plans can evolve and change as the business and relationship do.
5. How to Help Even When You’re Not Part of the Business
No matter who is running the business, there are parts of your life that are unrelated to it that still need to be addressed. With ambitious women starting companies and entering the workforce, oftentimes established gender roles need to be turned on their heads. It doesn’t really matter who’s the one managing day to day operations, picking up the slack at home can make a difference.
Organizing childcare, tackling household chores, organizing and paying bills, and keeping an eye on your partner’s mental health are all essential ways you can have a hand in establishing a successful operation without being directly involved in the business.
Success as a Team
If you’ve decided that you are better together, don’t let minor arguments or disagreements dissuade you. Through the roughest moments in your relationship and the toughest times in your business, you must believe that staying together can keep you strong. Learn forgiveness and give your partner the benefit of the doubt for things said during a heated argument. Your love for each other and your business will only grow!