For the month of February, we doing a series about “Love & Entrepreneurship.” Each week, we’ll talk about a different topic related to this theme. This post and the next relate to a love between 2 people but the next 2 posts broaden that definition of love. Keep checking in each week for more.
For now, let’s jump into this idea of working with your significant other.
The standard thought about working, let alone starting a business, with your significant other is that it’s not a good idea. If you know any couples who have started business together, you probably know at least 1 that has split up while trying to start or run their business. Starting a business is hard. It’s stressful. There are late nights and early mornings. There are worries about making money. To add the dynamics of your closest relationship seems ill advised.
But some couples make it work. My husband and I are 1 of those couples. I thought I’d share some thoughts about how and why we’ve made it work. If you’re thinking about starting or have already started a business with your significant other, I hope our story helps you evaluate your own relationship and decide if entrepreneurship is right for you and your significant other. I recommend sharing this post with him or her and have a conversation… maybe have that conversation during date night. I’ll talk more about why as I tell the story.
When Brandon and I were dating, we had a few couples to whom we looked up. They seemed to have marriage figured out.
One of these couples had the same passion but were working in very different spheres. Brandon and I would always talk about whether it would make more sense for this couple to focus on 1 endeavor that aligned with their shared passion or keep separately working in different areas. We suspected that focus might help them. At the very least they would spend more time together. Plus, it might lend toward greater impact.
We weren’t judging this couple. They needed to make their own decisions for their own marriage. We were simply asking ourselves, “Would what they are doing work for us or would we want to do something different?” We always came back to the idea that we wanted to do things together not separately.
After we got married, when it came to cooking dinner or washing the dishes, we tended to do things together. Rather than divide and conquer, we shared responsibilities. This worked way better for us than fighting over who was going to cook dinner that night. Most of the time this worked super well but sometimes Brandon would sometimes use this against me. I’d NOT want to do something. He’d suggest that instead of just him doing it that we do it together. “It’s more fun when we do it together…”
So, when it came to starting our businesses, we did almost everything together. I’m more of the writer and I left my cubicle first so he wasn’t always available to work along with me. We’d still talk about everything before and after I did it. We are very different people so having 2 perspectives on whatever we were working on made it better. He’d push my analytical and introverted thinking. I’d get him focused on action items rather than coming up with more new ideas. When 1 of us felt like giving up, the other one would go back to the stories of knowing that we know that we know.
Working together worked really well for the first couple years of business. We didn’t have too many troubles… but the stress of trying to make the business work finally got to us…
We got to a point where we were always working. Even when we weren’t at work, we were still talking about the business. We didn’t even realize what was happening. Our heads were down and we were focused on figuring out how to make the business work. We were so focused that we forgot we needed to work to make our marriage work as well. We reached a breaking point.
That’s when our friends and our coaches helped get us back on the right track. We made 1 simple change that made a GIGANTIC difference for us.
We implemented Date Night, once a week, every single week. Each Friday night, at 5pm, we start Date Night. There’s 1 rule of Date Night: No talking about work. Period. We simply have dinner, watch a movie, play a game of cards, go for a walk, or whatever we feel like doing. Instead of talking about our business, we talk about our feelings or our next vacation. We gossip about friends. It’s been years since we’ve implemented Date Night and there have been very few weeks we miss it. We look forward to it every week. It’s our time and nothing stops us from having it.
Date Night is the MOST important thing we’ve done to save our marriage and our business. But it’s not the only thing.
We also started having a set time each week to catch up on all the business stuff. We didn’t like the idea of calling it a “staff meeting” so we call it a “Rally.” It’s our time to get on the same page with where our business is and decide what’s most important to do next. With the Rally, we make sure we talk about all the things needing discussed. Afterward, we can go into action mode. We get things done and check-in about them. The Rally keeps us on track and focused. Without the Rally, we’re here, there, and everywhere. Without the Rally, it’s like we’re 2 ships in the night, always missing each other in our business.
So, what can you take away from our story?
- Date night. Do it. Don’t let anything or anyone come between you and a weekly date night. Especially, when the business gets tough, you and your significant other will need this no-work, together time. It’s crucial.
- Start doing non-business related stuff together as practice. If you haven’t started your business yet, try out doing more things together. Cook dinner together. Wash dishes together. Create or update your budget together. Whatever you’re already doing, test out doing it together.
- Talk about everything. “Hey, can I throw this idea by you?” Our #1 rule in life and in business is “Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.” Seriously. You might have separate spheres within your business but it’s still very helpful to get feedback and input from your partner.
- Regular times to “Rally.” This goes along with “Talk about everything.” If one or both of you are introverted, talking about everything will look differently for you. You might talk about everything during a set time like a Rally rather than whenever a thought pops into your head. I’m way more introverted than Brandon so we’ve set this up and it’s really helped balance our different personalities.
If anything I talked about today struck a chord with you, I’d love to set up a time to talk more with you. Whether you’re just starting out or your years into your business with your significant other, I’d love to strategize with you how to take it to the next level. I posted a link below to where you can book a phone call with me. There’s no pressure or gimmicks with the call. I’m simply interested in helping others. Schedule a time right now and I’ll look forward to talking with you later this week.
I’ll be back next week for another post about Love and Entrepreneurship.
In the meantime… Keep overflowing!