Running a business with someone you love can be tricky at times but the many benefits that come with it far outweigh the challenges. My partner and I started our business together about 3 years ago and I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Having said that, there have been plenty of obstacles along the way and 3 years in, we’ve got a few tips that might help other couples who are starting out in business together.
We started our ecommerce business as a side project while we both had full time jobs. Over the years we gradually reduced our time at our jobs as the business grew. Now we are both about to make the leap into full time entrepreneurship and we are more than a little excited! Not only will we get to choose what we do when we wake up everyday, we’ll also get to spend the majority of our time together, instead of with work colleagues.
Here are some tips we’ve learned along that way that have really helped us to succeed in our business:
1) Plan your life and business goals together. When your income and life are so intertwined, having life goals that are fuelled by your business success can be the best motivator there is! Location independence is one of the most motivating incentives for us and has helped drive us through the tough times. Connect something you want in your life to the success of your business and you’ll have all the motivation you’ll need to make it work.
2) Use meetings to stay on track. We have a weekly review over coffee on a Sunday morning to review our work, check in with our goals and set an agenda for the coming week. It helps us stay accountable and gives us time to check in and share what we’re each working on. These regular reviews have really helped us ensure that we’re working on the right things for our business and not getting off track or on tangents.
3) Have clearly defined roles within the business. This took us some time to achieve but after a while, we naturally took charge of the areas we were strongest in. This allowed us to take ownership for specific areas in the business and enabled us to play to our strengths. This isn’t always possible straight away but it’s definitely something to aim for.
4) Make sure you are both really committed before you begin. We’ve seen couples where one person is more committed to the business than the other and it can get really frustrating for both parties. If one of you has a burning desire to succeed and the other thinks it might be a bit of fun, then it might be worth reconsidering your decision. Business is an ‘all in’ affair.
5) Show appreciation. If one of you is working really hard, having a difficult time or has achieved something awesome in your business, then the simple words “I appreciate you” can go a long way. Feeling unappreciated leads to resentment and there is no place for resentment if you want to run a successful business. Taking the time to acknowledge each other’s wins and appreciate the small stuff has worked wonders for us.
6) Systemise your business. We have standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all repetitive tasks in our business. We started this right from the word go and it was the best thing we did. It prevents us having to learn things twice (if you forgot them the first time) and makes hiring for these tasks super simple. We’ve had so much success with SOPs that we’ve actually used them in our personal life with great success. We now have a weekly meal plan which eliminates the predictable ‘what shall we cook for dinner?’ discussion.
We know some other couples that also work together who set limits on when business talk is and is not allowed. This makes sense because if you’re not careful your entire life can be consumed by the business. We’ve never felt the need to do this though as we feel our life and business are so completely intertwined. If we need to discuss something to do with the business then we’ll just as happily do it while doing the dishes as we will sitting down at our desks. It allows us to make quick decisions and move things forward.
Working with your loved one can be one of the most rewarding experiences there is. You will always be working toward a common goal and you also get to see each other’s skills and abilities in action. Learning to negotiate and discuss aspects of our business has also had a massively positive effect on our relationship. We’ve had so much practise in communication that when a non-business decision needs to be made, we have plenty of experience to draw upon!
Sophie is the co-founder of www.drifttravelwallets.com.au. Drift is an Australian store that specialises in the design and curation of travel wallets and passport holders. Sophie and her partner have made it their mission to provide Australian travellers with the finest collection of travel wallets available.