Have you ever wondered what it takes for couples to work together? Is it something you think your relationship could handle?
Sure it could.
You just need the right tools to make it happen. And what we've discovered is that communication is critical if you want to start something together and not drive each other nuts. There's a lot going on at our house with three kids and having a business that operates in our fringe hours (Like last night when I worked on a clients website from 10p to 11pm), plus we both have jobs like every one else.
Over the past year I've been paying attention to sayings we've been using when we talk business. Every couple has sayings and they are great indicators if you should be starting a business together. In the beginning sit down together over some coffee (or your favorite beverage) and ask, "What common phrases do we use with each other?" I can tell you right now, if you are planning to start something together in your fringe time, I would avoid it if these phrases were common:
"Where's the remote?"
"Please, I just need some me time."
"I just need to make it to Friday."
Working together doesn't hide relational issues, it accentuates them.
More time together.
That phrase either excites your or it causes a ginormous butterfly to try to fly out of your chest. If the thought of working together causes you excitement than we want to introduce you to five sayings we regularly use around The Factory to work well with one another.
Five sayings couples who work together in small business can use:
1. "I hear what you're saying" - It's really hard to work together if listening isn't involved. Developing this saying right from the beginning will save you a lot of conflict in regards to your business but unlike couples who have different employers, the conflict comes homes with you. Feeling heard creates a sense of trust and unity you're going to need to help your business last.
2. "You're really good at that" - If you can recognize each other's strengths, you'll get further, faster. Mel's really good in the business sense. I'm more of the problem solver and a networker. There was never any question who would lead the business in a direction, it was Mel all the way, she has carried the title of CEO from the beginning. Don't run your business together by taking on roles assumed you should because of gender or input from others, instead identify gifts in each other, call them out, and give ownership of the tasks that fits those strengths.
3. "Let's get lunch" - You have to eat, right? What we've discovered is that sneaking in a lunch once a week offers clarity. Going out for lunch provides us the space to get away and revisit goals or things that need to be done. Remember, the business isn't our full time thing for either of us. The business operates in our fringe hours, an hour here or there after kids have fallen asleep. 10pm is a difficult time to have a good business conversation, so lunch provides us the opportunity to have a coherent conversation around managing the business.
4. "Not now" - If your an idea person like me, in your head you have the idea that's going to cause your small business to blow up....and you get that new idea every day. But it's pretty hard for you to build a business when you're trying something new every other day. To keep us from drifting from the business plan we use the phrase, "Not now." It doesn't mean "never" and it certainly doesn't mean, "No." As you grow your business good ideas will come to you all the time but ideas need to become strategize with steps and goals for them to work. It might be helpful for you to keep a "Not now" list somewhere so when the time is right, you can create a plan.
5. "Have you read ......?" - A business philosophy around The Factory is that we read a lot. Blogs, books, magazines, etc...we try to read as much as we can. Entrepreneurship requires ideas. Especially in the beginning when you are short on hands, potentially just your own. We don't have business partners but we do have lots of minds. Great people share what they are learning every day in these different forms of writing and it makes us feel like we have coaches, mentors, and sages. Rarely do we have a business conversation where the phrase, "I read this..." doesn't come up.
It's natural the more time a couple spends together there is a heightened risk of conflict but the opposite is true as well, there's also heightened chance for joy. If you have a gift or a talent, have you considered making a revenue instead of watching the rerun of a sitcom you've already seen 5 times? No, working together is not for everyone. But a great way to know if you could work together is evaluating the every day language in your relationship. Is it harsh and critical? Then you probably don't want to go into business together. Is your language supportive and honoring? Then you'd probably make great business partners. It certainly wouldn't hurt to at least have a conversation.