Tips for Being in Business with your Spouse
My husband Ethan King and I started our business together back in 2002. At the time we were simply dating, but had a vision for a company that would revolutionize the fraternity and sorority market. We took care of all of the legalese and drafted and signed a partnership agreement and we were off to the races.
We got married a year or so after starting our business and really had no model for a couple working together. Our parents thought we were a little crazy and perhaps we were, but we felt certain that any obstacle we faced, we would be able to overcome it and most importantly our relationship/marriage came first. However, there were moments of tension, arguments, and disagreements, but on the other side of that was compromise and a quest to create a successful business.
After recently celebrating 19 years of marriage and the birth of 2 kids, we have learned how to work together successfully and still love each other at the end of day. Here are out tips:
Make a list of who is responsible for what in business and at home. We found that primarily staying in our designated lanes has help us. We adopted this concept from our pre-martial counseling classes. Prior to us getting married, one of the things we had to do during premarital counseling was to complete a form separately designated who we thought would be responsible for what tasks around the house. Things like laundry, trash, dishes, car maintenance, etc. Then we came back together to discuss and land on who would take on what responsibilities. We have done the same in our business. Some areas we each naturally gravitated towards. For example, I was a business major so I take care of most items dealing with insurance coverage for the business and employees as well as the financials. Ethan is an artist and extremely creative so he primarily focuses on the designs and marketing.
Create job descriptions with roles and tasks. Just like you would for any other team member. Similar to above, but actually knowing what each role entails is important to making sure all areas of the business is covered. When we initially started, we were just in grind mode so we both wore every hat and did everything, but as we grew we had to begin creating job descriptions and roles...even ours.
Appreciate the work that your partner does. Say it and show it! You should let your partner know that you see them. You see the work they are contributing and that you appreciate all that they do for the business and at home. For example, Ethan and I both cook on the days that we don't have help. We both show gratitude and appreciation by saying "thank you for cooking". We do the same in the office. I will thank him for sending out a marketing email or handling an equipment issue. Just like your team like to feel appreciated so does your spouse. Don't take that for granted.
Be supportive of your partner's projects and ventures. Ethan and I both love and enjoy our businesses. We also love our family, but we both also have separate interest and separate friends. That being the case, we are supportive of each other doing things that fill their cup and light them up. We cheer each other on and provide support in anyway that we can. Ethan just recently published an international bestselling book. That venture required a lot of late nights, me helping him edit and give feedback and so much more. However, I have enjoyed supporting him in this journey and will profess to being his biggest cheerleader.
Ensure that your goals and overall mission & vision align. It is important that you talk often about the vision you have for your family and business. Ideally you want to be aligned in your financial, spiritual and core values of your family. Ethan and I talked a lot about these things prior to getting married, but we still discuss them and for the most part they have not changed very much. For example, in 2019 we set a goal of getting completely out of personal debt with the exception of our home. Having this common mission and vision helped us to strategize as well as have something to celebrate when we accomplished the goal in 2020.
Make sure you still have common interest outside of the business and kids. For example when Ethan and I were dating, we loved going out to dinner and to movies. We took up golf even though we have put that on the backburner for now because neither of us had hours to be on a golf course when we were working to grow our business. We still make time to have date nights, and we make a commitment to take at least 2 trips a year with just the two of us. Another interest that we have in common is personal fitness. Though we do not workout together, we are committed to our health and wellbeing.
These are a few of the things that we think have made us successful in our marriage and our business. We are also committed to communicating when things don't feel right or if we don't feel in alignment. We don't brush things under the rug because it is best to address them so we can determine a solution and move forward with purpose.