Love & Small Business
Here’s our best steps for working successfully with a romantic partner.
Valentine’s Day is a great excuse for couples to romantically reconnect with a special meal, flowers or other expressions of affection. However, if your relationship includes running a busy small business together, you might not been in the mood for love. Here are some steps you can take to make a working and romantic partnership healthier.
Take a Test Run Before You Start a Business
Claudia Gee co-owns Amazing Balloons by Gee with her husband. Before they launched their successful Southern California business, they took a “test drive” of sorts.
“After we got married, my husband and I wanted to start a business together,” Gee says. “I wasn’t sure we would make a good team until we bought a salvaged car to repair.” Claudia quickly discovered that she and her husband worked very well together. She would read the repair manuals and he would do the dirty work. “It was a great bonding experience!” she says.
Volunteering your time together is another good way to see how well you work with your spouse or partner. Some ways to connect before you start a business are heading up a committee at your child’s school, spearheading operations for a fundraising event or pitching in to help a local charity reach their goals.
Clearly Define Duties
Even if each partner has naturally settled into an individual role in running the business, it’s important to make those responsibilities “official”. Establish a title for each partner that comes with a detailed job description before you launch.
Even if your initial business plan included specific tasks for each partner, you need to revisit the responsibilities regularly as your business evolves. Set aside time every 6 months or so to go over all job responsibilities and how those are divided up. Is each partner still happy with the work distribution? Now is the time to discuss before resentments build up or one partner becomes overworked.
Separate Work and Life
Whitney Weiss co-owns the Weiss Watch Company with her husband Cameron. Her best advice? “Don’t talk about the business outside of business hours unless absolutely necessary.” She and her husband connect once a day to discuss business details and try to get all issues solved during that time. She also stresses the importance of outside passions. “We’re passionate about our business but we also love camping, surfing and playing with our awesome dog.” The key to keeping work life and personal life separate is structure and consistency.
Value Individual Time
Often couples working together don’t develop outside interests or enjoy hobbies outside of work. Weiss suggests having your own hobby that lets you decompress. “Cameron likes to surf or work on fixing his truck, she says. “I like to take ballet classes and read historical fiction novels.” Revisit what you enjoyed doing before you jumped into the whirlwind of running a small business.
Consider Adding Staff
If you and your partner are stressed out, snapping at each other or overworked, it might be time to bring on an additional employee. As an alternative to an in-house employee, a remote contractor can handle day-to-day and other tasks. If your budget is tight, look into securing a low-cost small business loan. In addition to hiring, you can use loan proceeds for a variety of reasons that will increase your cash flow including consolidating high-interest debt or working capital. Extra funds can be a huge stress-reliever.
Work With Mentors
Each partner should seek out a small business mentor to use as a sounding board. In addition to helping with professional relationship issues, working with a mentor can provide ideas and solutions couples might not have tried to grow their business. Finding a mentor can be relatively easy. Seek out one of the government-sponsored mentor organizations like your local Small Business Development Center. The trade association for your industry might operate mentor-protégé programs or networking groups.
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