Yes, it really is possible for marriage and business to co-exist.
January 31, 2020 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As an entrepreneur, you might think business and love can’t mix. But there’s no reason couples can’t work together to create an extraordinary business. A trend that’s on the rise, there are more and more power couples emerging who are beating the odds and successfully running a business together.
That’s not to say that it’s easy. Working together every day and maintaining a strong relationship takes work, especially if you both have strong personalities. So how can a couple successfully work together without straining the relationship? If you’re looking to become the next Melinda and Bill Gates, the following tips might help:
Ensure you have good communication
When working with your spouse, you need to maintain a good level of communication with one another. If you end up tip-toeing around each other, both your professional and personal relationships may erode. Upon returning to work after taking time off to be a full-time mom, Megan McKissen joined her husband Dustin in their corporate communications company McKissen & Co. in Bellingham, Wash.
She believes you need to be respectful, but tell your spouse when something is not right within the business. “Clear communication is important,” Megan says. “If you’re upset with something as a coworker, but not as a spouse, clarify which role you’re speaking from. Failing to do that will cause a lot of unnecessary conflict.”
By empathizing with one another and taking the time to talk every day, you’ll stand a better chance of being successful, both at work and at home.
Take time off
When you work together every day, there might be a risk of everything becoming about work. While it’s important to talk about work when you are, of course, working throughout the day, you don’t want every discussion you have to be about work. This is why it’s vital to also spend quality time together away from the workplace.
Try to arrange a date night every week. This will keep your personal relationship on the front burner while giving you a break from the stresses the business might bring. Dustin sums it up like this: “A successful working relationship depends on a successful personal relationship. You can’t have peace at work and war at home or vice versa. Make your relationship a priority. Even if you’ve seen each other all day every day through the week, you need to make time for date night on the weekend.”
Keep it professional
When you are working, however, it’s important to keep your relationship professional. If you fail to do so, your emotions will get in the way when it comes time to make challenging decisions within the business. Treat your partner like a work colleague. Make every important decision together while also recognizing your unique and individual strengths.
Of course, there should be a clear work-life balance. But when you’re in the office, both partners should have the same frame of mind — that your business is a top priority.
Express appreciation and celebrate the little things
When working together, you should show appreciation for the little things throughout the day. If you have worked together to close a deal or acquire new business, show gratitude to your partner for what they have done. This respect is essential for your relationship and business to thrive.
If your spouse makes a move that benefits your business, such as successfully acquiring an order, celebrate it. By celebrating the small things together, you will make the workplace a lot more positive. It also shows you respect and appreciate all they do for the business. Your spouse will, in turn, follow suit.
Sid Clevinger and Tiffany Tombs of Dallas, Texas run multiple businesses together and happen to be engaged. I reached out to find out how they make it work. ““Being in a relationship with a fellow entrepreneur is extremely fast-paced, as we are both consistently going all in on ourselves and our business,” Clevinger said in an email. “We’ve each learned to leverage our own success to help the other see wins in the business as well.”
Working together and living together can create a delicate work/love balance. You wake up in the same house, go to work together in the same office and go home together. So the thought of being around your partner later to go on a date can lose its luster if you’re not careful. Tombs says time management is important to keeping the businesses running smooth and the relationship sparks running high.
“We are both alpha’s, competitive and extremely passionate about what we do,” Tomb says. “We’ve had to create agreements around our communication about what needs to get done, remember that we aren’t competing with each other and provide feedback about each others’ ideas.”
“We’ve also created clear boundaries around business time and couples time,” she continues. “This means when we’re on couple time, there are no phones and no work talk.”
Maintaining a successful mixture of business and love is a learning curve, which makes it vital to be on the same page from the start of the journey. You need to define the roles you hold individually and appreciate each other for the unique talents you have.
If you go into the process with the mindset that not every day within a business is perfect, there will be fewer surprises. From the get-go, ensure you know the divide you must make between business and relationship to be sure you’re there for each other no matter the challenges the business may face. This is the biggest secret to becoming a powerful entrepreneur couple.