I was first introduced to entrepreneurial ideas when I was 20 years old. I dropped out of college and immediately started pursuing a life of fulfillment and goal-chasing.
I moved from city to city throughout the Midwest, which was an amazing experience, but not very conducive to any kind of relationship. I got frustrated and lonely because I thought I was destined to be alone because of my ambition. I wondered why I couldn’t meet anyone that just got me and wanted to go after big life dreams together. I was traveling, having fun, living life on my own terms, but always had that thought in the back of my head.
In early 2015, I went on a girl’s trip/leadership event in Maui where I ended up meeting my now-husband, Ryan. We shared a common vision for our lives and everything matched up magically.
In June of 2017, we got married, and that’s when I started learning what being in business with your significant other was all about. It’s magical, no doubt about that, but it also required a lot of growing and figuring things out. My hope is to point out the potential downfalls and the inevitable arguments and disagreements that are going to happen, and to provide a solution to deal with them, or ways to avoid them altogether. Business can be tough and when things aren’t smooth sailing on the home front, this can sabotage things so much.
1. Cast your vision and goal together.
2. Be on the same page.
3. Take breaks away from “business” talks.
4. Play off of each other’s strengths.
5. Have clear expectations.
6. Know what motivates each other.
CAST YOUR VISION AND GOAL TOGETHER
It’s so important to do this for so many reasons. You may realize over time that you are both working toward completely different goals for completely different reasons. This can cause some turmoil or incongruencies in the way you conduct business. For example, one of you may have a “money” goal, and you desire your business to yield a certain amount of money in the next five years so that you can buy your dream house and pay off debts. The other may have a creative goal to create a large brand name, reach millions of people and build a Nike-like legacy. Both goals are great, but you might make decisions differently depending on the long-term goal.
I find it necessary to create a vision together, to know what the end result is and talk about it often. My husband and I have vision boards all over our bedroom and smaller ones in our cars and on the bathroom mirrors. We didn’t just stick random cool things on them. Each item on these boards had a lot of thought behind them and a feeling attached to them.
Let me make this clarification: your individual goals do not have to be identical. You should obviously have your own personal goals (which is an entirely different topic), but for your business that you are co-creating with another person, you should have co-created goals attached to it.
BE ON THE SAME PAGE
This might sound similar to what I was just talking about, but let me be clear about what I mean. When I say “on the same page,” I’m talking about the day-to-day activity of your business. If there is a certain goal that needs to be completed that day, it should be communicated effectively and be in agreement on how it should be handled. There have been numerous times when my husband and I missed something because we weren’t on the same page. One time, Ryan told me that something needed to be mailed out. I told him that I would take care of it, and I did at the end of the week, but it was something that should have been out that day. I didn’t know it was time-sensitive and felt like he should have communicated that to me. That’s a small example, but I’m sure you can see how many things like this over time could really be bad for your business.
I think something else that goes along with being on the same page are your morals and values toward your business. My husband is definitely someone who focuses on doing the right thing even if it means missing out on business. I love it. Some people may have the “do whatever it takes” attitude to create the revenue, and that’s fine too, but it could cause some trouble if you don’t agree on the manner and the kind of integrity you want your business to operate on.
TAKE BREAKS AWAY FROM “BUSINESS” TALKS
This was an incredibly difficult one for me, but once I understood how important it was, I made sure to do it. When you have a burning passion for your business and it’s in complete alignment with your purpose and the impact you want to create, it’s hard to talk about anything besides it. I applaud you if this is you and you have found that worthy goal in your life. When you have a partner with the same burning desire, it can take over your life and in NO way is that a bad thing. So, what the hell am I talking about then?
There have been times when my husband and I weren’t completely present in what we were doing because our thoughts were on other things. I remember being in California on this beautiful beach at these adorable cafes along the water…and being on the phone and taking business calls the entire time. Literally my memories of this beautiful place are of my cell phone. We work so hard and when we get a chance to enjoy the fruits of our labor, we make sure we ENJOY them! It rejuvenates us so that we can continue to do what fuels us. It gives us a bigger perspective on why we do what we do. It gives us a chance to reward ourselves and regroup for the next goal. The first business I ever had, I had zero fun. I never went on trips, I never saw my family, I never did anything. I don’t regret having that kind of mindset and willingness to sacrifice, but I do wish I took the time to enjoy this beautiful thing called life that we only get one of. Maybe you’re not going on a trip. Even just having a movie night or game night or something fun to do with your partner that isn’t centered on business.
My husband is the most important thing to me, and if my business is thriving but my marriage is failing, then what did I actually achieve? Maybe a larger bank account, but at the cost of happiness and fulfillment. Enjoy each other. I’m a firm believer that your business will thrive if you and other half are happy and in alignment.
PLAY OFF OF EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS
You’re together for a reason. You clearly have enough similar and opposite qualities that make your relationship work. Use those same qualities in your business. If you’re strong in numbers and you are analytical, maybe take over the finances of your business and communicate that to your partner so they can focus on another part of the business. If one is more creative, then let them create and brainstorm. If one is task-oriented, make sure they have the tasks that need completed in order of importance. If one is a great networker and can make great connections, then use that to your advantage. Identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses and come up with a plan on how to utilize those and who will be responsible for what.
HAVE CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
As mentioned before and in a million books ever written for couples about anything, communication is huge. Clearly communicating your expectations for each other in your business and in your life together is so important. When Ryan and I got married, we went through a lot of pre-marriage counseling. I thought it was really eye-opening. We had to take this long test separately, and then anything that we didn’t match on we talked about. It was things such as household responsibilities, disciplining children—things that we never really talked about, but we had an expectation of what we thought it should be like or what the action taken by the other person should be. I think it’s extremely important in your business as well. You need to be clear and exact as far as what you expect the other person to be responsible for and agree on that.
KNOW WHAT MOTIVATES EACH OTHER
I am super simple when it comes to this. I’m motivated by fun, travel and a sense of fulfillment. My goals are always tied to a vacation or a trip I want to go on. I stare at destinations all day, and if my husband says we need to accomplish XYZ to go to Thailand, consider it done. Though my husband loves travel, he is way more motivated by income because of the plans he has already assigned those future earnings to. He is a big visionary and does not let much drag him off course (unless it’s me begging for trips). We have to compromise on what’s next. There are times I need to understand I’m not going on the trip I want to next week, but if I do my part and help generate a certain amount of income from a project that takes care of another goal we have then eventually I can. He is motivated by a long-lasting impact that will live beyond him.
I hope that this has or will help any couples who go into business together! Don’t kill each other, make it work! I believe in you!
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