I fell in love with that expression from the very first time I heard it. It exactly captured my idea of power couples, both sharing the same entrepreneurial dream and eagerly working on it together.
And I’m sure millions of couples across the globe take on this challenge all the time. And I’m also sure that for many, it’s the best decision they have ever made. What could be greater than working side by side with your romantic partner, spending lots of time together?
Unfortunately that’s not quite the experience for thousands of other couples who decided to form a business partnership.
For example, Lana and Leroy (not they real names, of course!)
This entrepreneurial couple came to me, kicking and screaming, demanding that I save their businesses, and help them to remain married…to each other.
There’s no doubt that working with your spouse is a big step. It’s also one that seems to be occupying the minds of several couples. Why do I say that? Just by the sheer number of people who keep asking me if it’s a good idea.
As you would understand, I can’t say “YES” or “NO” because each couple is different.
But let me ask you…are you planning to be the husband or wife in an entrepreneurial couple? Do you want to prevent your million-dollar dream from turning into an entrepreneurial nightmare? Then, pay close attention to the likely stumbling blocks which I share below.
I promise you they will help you keep your dream, marriage and business alive, even as you work with your spouse towards personal and professional success.
So here we go…
1. Make sure you and your spouse have the same “dream”
So you’re running a marriage together, yeah? And now you decide to take it a step further and run a business together. How cool is that?
But you’re dreaming of a making this business a long-term venture, even passing it on to the children. Then you discover that your spouse is dreaming of keeping this business at most 5 years and then selling it…
What if your husband plans on bringing in his brother and that cousin you can’t stand as partners? And this is contrary to your dream of keeping the business just between you and him?
Worst of all is if you have not determined your business model and how it will really work for the both of you.
You have to think about issues like these, early in the process. Then you discuss them, using a professional approach. In this way, you will avoid the serious nightmare which is just waiting on any unsuspecting entrepreneurial couple.
Having clarity on sensitive “dream” issues also helps you to get in touch with how you feel about the dream. Be sure to check out some of the common small business problems to help you make your final decision.
It’s really okay if you choose not to get into business with your spouse. Actually, it’s much better for you, your business and your partner, than if you get in and then spend most of the time being angry and resentful.
2. Know the Level of maturity of each partner
There is nothing I can think of that a couple can do, that requires higher levels of maturity, than deciding to work together.
Just like most entrepreneurial couples, Lana and Leroy were working in the same space.
Lana admitted that she could not help feeling jealous when Leroy held onsite meetings with young, attractive women. This was despite the fact that they had created an appropriate meeting room for either one to use for meetings.
On the other hand, Leroy believed that he was always working harder than Lana. As far as he was concerned, she spent too much time on the phone. and talking to each customer.
So as far as possible, try to discuss in advance what could make you uncomfortable or jealous when you’re sharing a space. If you have not discussed it before, talk about it as soon as it comes up.
After all, you want to have sex at the end of the day…don’t you?
3. Respect and value each other’s business capabilities
The things that might have attracted you to each other, might not be the same that lead you to do business with each other.
Apart from the physical attributes, there would have been some behaviors and values that you found completely irresistible in each other.
So you think, “hey, let’s add working together in a business to the mix!” But when you try it, you discover things about each other that don’t readily accommodate doing business together.
For example, the one with the project management background is systems-focused and rules-based. Unfortunately, he or she also supports this with a touch of superiority. On the other hand, the one who meets the customers, arranges the meetings and takes in the money does not feel as valued.
This is a real problem among entrepreneurial couples, and is usually the source of much disagreement and resentment.
Therefore, if you’re going to make working together work, it is important that you respect and value each other’s capabilities.
You should also ensure that each partner perform duties or fulfil functions which are best suited to their skills-set and are needed by the business.
4. Don’t treat the Bedroom as an extended Boardroom
I am so serious about this.
You are already spending so much time working together, you really do need a private space to relax, recharge and reduce the impact of daily stress.
So keep the cellphones, laptops, business documents (and children if you can) out of your bedroom. Transforming it into a boardroom will soon kill your entrepreneurial dream and many other dreams…
Be sure to decorate it with a touch of romance whatever the size, paying special attention to creating a serene atmosphere that appeals to both of you.
In this way, your wife will not turn up in the bedroom in a negligee and you with a laptop. It happens.
5. Have a meaningful division of home & family responsibilities
Traditionally, women were required to assume the role of homemaker and caregiver. Meanwhile, men worked at a job outside the home to provide financial support for the families.
Over time, all that changed and women are now working professionals and leaders in their own right.
This means that within a marriage, home and family responsibilities should be shared and managed together.
When you have power couples, working together in the same business, you can easily understand the amount of planning it takes to make this happen.
The problem is, for a couple to come up with a method that makes sense for them, is not the easiest thing .
But if you determine what needs to be done and who does what, this will help you get a clearer picture of how the work should be distributed.
But whatever you do, try to avoid “the 50/50 split”.
Splitting your chores right down the middle is like splitting hairs and adds unnecessary stress to the relationship.
As a matter of fact, if there is any area in which you need great teamwork, it is in the area of household chores.
6. Entrepreneurial couples need a Partnership Agreement too
This was such a sticking point for Leroy and Lana but I stood firm.
You see, whatever the relationship between two people, once they are getting into business, it should be managed by some form of business partnership agreement.
For entrepreneurial couples, it is even more important because if the marriage fails, it is highly unlikely that it will be business as usual.
Even if you will be incorporating a company, putting a business partnership in place in the interim can help keep the dream alive.
You should make sure that your agreement clearly covers:
- who is responsible for what
- how money will be spent and invested internally and externally
- a process for resolving disagreements
- guidelines for how decisions are made
- how to dissolve the business
Even if it seems unnecessary today, you will be glad you have an agreement, if the arrangement sours later in the life of the business.
7. Entrepreneurial Couples should have “alone time”
Believe it or not, very often, this is the source of active resistance by both partners.
They are quick to remind me, that they spend so much time in each other’s company, living and working together, by choice.
What they might not realise is that spending so much time together, is the very source of the petty bickering they complain to me about.
The problem is, even saying that you’re thinking of asking for “a little space for yourself” is regarded by the other partner as a signal that something is wrong.
But spending time away from your spouse, pursuing a different goal or hobby, is essential both for your personal and business relationship.
First of all, it ensures you retain your own individuality, while also growing together as a couple.
Secondly, it provides an opportunity for you to sit quietly with your emotions. This helps you to gain greater clarity on a situation before you have a discussion on it. In this way, you’re more likely to solve a problem, instead of fighting about it.
A word of caution though…
Please discuss alone time with your partner BEFORE you just start doing it. Not having the discussion can lead to resentment and a need to “get back” .
WARNING: “alone time” must be available to each partner and no partner should attempt to influence how that time is spent.
8. Entrepreneurial couples: Get coaching early!
Lana and Leroy came to me when they felt they had nowhere else to turn to save their business and their marriage.
When you ignore coaching until the last minute, you’re making a serious mistake. By that time, you will be feeling as though you’ve totally messed up and will be blaming each other. That’s not the frame of mind that will allow you to accept any hard solutions as a couple.
In addition, it is also a sign that you didn’t understand the giant step you were taking when you get into business with your romantic partner.
I cannot stress how important coaching is to power couples setting up a business.
It means that early in your journey as an entrepreneurial couple, you have a chosen expert in your corner. This coach can help you navigate the hidden pitfalls and solve the problems that might otherwise blindside you both.
With coaching, here are some of the business solutions you can get help with, even before you make the first wrong move:
- How to love your business and keep the dream alive
- Leadership skills to rapidly scale your business
- How to move from good to outstanding really fast
- Clients who won’t pay as agreed
- How to make your business flexible
- (COVID) crisis management skills
- How to establish your core values
- What to consider if you work from home
- What to do to win when you default on your debt
- And many more business solutions
So it’s not too late to get some type of coaching now.
Remember, if you invest in small business coaching, you are fully investing in yourselves, your marriage and your business.
And these are the investments that pay incredible dividends for you in the long run…
Your next “entrepreneurial couples” steps
You know I’ve got your back.
That’s why I take the trouble to show you 8 things that can seriously undermine your efforts to set up a business and work with your spouse.
What does that mean for you?
Well, you can no longer rush headlong into a business with your spouse, even if you has a shotgun wedding.
That’s because I’ve laid out several compelling stumbling blocks you cannot just ignore.
Let me emphasize, I’m not warning you not to do business with your love partner. Rather, I am warning you to look before you leap and my 8 points are meant to be your wide-opened eyes.
And if you are already part of an entrepreneurial couple, well, use them as a yardstick to measure how it can be improved.
To your successful dreams…