Starting a business presents a set of challenges most people never experience in their career. Leading a growing company requires you to play roles you never anticipated and understand aspects of the business you never imagined. Even rarer still is doing all of this when your business partner is also your spouse. For many couples, this idea may seem too crazy to work, but for the right ones, it can lead to a level of personal and professional fulfillment you can’t find anywhere else. It’s not always easy, but there are a few tips you can follow to make your unique situation successful.
Establish a Healthy Foundation
A firm foundation – in both your personal and professional life – is essential to your success. Without it, everything else is almost irrelevant and something along the way will suffer. The process of building a business from the ground up can be all-consuming, so you need to make every effort to ensure that your marriage, family and mindset are as healthy as possible. Without this first step in place, you almost guarantee failure.
Play to Each Other’s Strengths
In every personality test that my husband Landon and I took, we both scored very high in the ‘dominance’ category. If you and your spouse are considering going into business together, there’s a strong chance this applies to you as well. Couples that both have this ‘High A’ personality have a good chance of success, but this combination can create a highly competitive atmosphere and lead to butting heads.
We dealt with some of this early on and took a step back to really think about our roles within the company. It was easy for me to see that Landon should be the CEO. His presence is undeniable and he can command a room and lead and mentor others better than anyone I’ve ever seen. The vision for the company was mine and the clarity with which I saw the big picture and the future of the company was an obvious indicator that I should be the one creating the roadmap. Once we talked this through and acknowledged each other’s strengths, it was easy for us to allow the other one to lead aspects of the business we’re best suited for.
Find Your Connection Outside of Work & Family
Landon and I just had our fifth child and our business is growing by the day; needless to say, we are very busy. It would be so easy to spend all of our time talking about and connecting over just these two things, but it’s important to have something that fulfills you as a couple beyond work and family. For us it is our faith – we make sure to pray together, go to church together, meet with our small group, volunteer together, and just use each other as confidants regarding our own walk with God. Maybe your connection isn’t faith, but hobby – yoga, a softball league, music or whatever you are passionate about. It’s important to invest time in something outside of work and family to make sure that your relationship is well-rounded and more than just a business partnership.
Understand the Time Commitment Will Cause You To Miss Out, Occasionally
When you make the decision to build a business, you have to know it’s going to be an abnormally large part of your life. A common saying in business circles is that entrepreneurs work 80 hours a week to avoid working a 9 to 5. It’s truer than you might think, and with that intense drive to make your business successful, other areas of your life are going to get less attention. You need to accept that it’s probably not the season to worry about your golf game, planning that college reunion trip or knowing who won “The Bachelor.”
This commitment of time may not last forever, but it’s inevitable in the early stages of building a business. If you have kids, much of your remaining focus must be on them. Once you factor in making sure your marriage or relationship is healthy, there may not be much time left for social or leisure activities. If you love what you do as much as we do, this is an easy trade-off to make.
Be Each Other’s Biggest Cheerleader
One of the most fulfilling parts of being in business together is getting to see a side of your spouse that you may not normally see. Most couples don’t get to truly comprehend how good their partner is at their job, and you should never miss the opportunity to let them know when they do something awesome. I try to let Landon know every time he kills it in a meeting or provides great guidance to another member of our team, and he tells me many times a week how valuable my strategy, vision and opinion is. Knowing that your partner has full confidence in you is only going to make you lead better, discern clearer and grow stronger.
It won’t always be easy, but sharing the difficult challenges of entrepreneurship with your spouse provides an opportunity to for true partnership in all parts of your life. It can be difficult to find the right balance, but once you do, you’ll find fulfillment in your career that most people never get to experience.
Kat Eckles is the co-founder of Clean Juice. A self-proclaimed recovering Taco Bell addict, Kat found her passion for all things wellness in 2007 after having her first daughter. She graduated from Wilmington University with a B.S. in Psychology and will finish a health coach certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition later in 2017.