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Top 10 tips for married couples running a business together

With a down economy, more and more couples are choosing to go into business together, but there are some basic rules that should be followed to keep a marriage in tact.

couple cofounders

couple cofounders

Bucking age old advice

We’ve all heard the oft-told advice, never date a person you work with. But what happens when you own a business with someone you’re married to? Not only are you tasked with making your marriage work, but now that person is in the trenches alongside you as you face the trials that come along with running a successful business. Although this person may drive your crazy at times, if you and your spouse work together, you have to develop a game plan for how both of you can work together and succeed. Here are the top 10 tips for married couples running a business.

Tip one: work it out

Respectfully work through your disagreements– When you’re tasked with running a business together, the stakes are high and may make the both of you on edge. Try to remain level-headed and civilly talk through any arguments. This is your business, not your living room.

Tip two: walk it off

Learn when to walk away– When you aren’t able to remain calm, walk away. A few minutes to yourself will help you cool off and return in a mood more conducive to problem solving. Keep this rule in mind and agree on it in advance, and always respect each others’ need to walk away.

Tip three: communicate

Improve your communication skills– Clearly and concisely sum up the key things that you have to say so that your spouse can easily understand and intelligently respond.

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Tip four: keep ’em separated

Try to keep your work and love life separate– Last night you may have argued about him not picking up his phone or her spending all of her free time with her friends, but neither of those discussions have anything to do with how you’re going to improve sales this quarter. During working hours, only discuss things that directly affect your business and save the lovers’ quarrels for later.

Tip five: man up

Don’t be passive aggressive– If there is a relationship issue that may negatively affect your ability to work together, come outright and discuss it. Answering “oh, nothing” when your spouse asks if anything is wrong or leaving catty notes is petty. Have the discussion in as brief a manner as possible and try to get to a place where you both can be productive and of value for the rest of the work day.

Tip six: be clear

Define your roles– Outline who is responsible for what responsibilities. If you’re a math whiz and she’s a great communicator, then divvy up the accounting and marketing responsibilities respectively. By clearly outlining who does what, both of you are less likely to drop the ball.

Tip seven: remember your roots

Remember why you decided to work together– When difficulties arise, remember the qualities that made you decide to work with your partner. They may goof every now and then but know that they have a lot to bring to the table in term of benefiting your business.

Tip eight: forgive, forget

Be forgiving– Everyone makes mistakes, so don’t rip your spouse’s head off if they mess up. As long as it isn’t a re-occurring problem, learn from the mistake and build processes to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

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Tip nine: no nagging

Don’t nag– both of you probably hear enough nagging around the house so it’s best not to bring it into the workplace. If there are tasks that need to be done, schedule a meeting where you can discuss these items and delegate who needs to do what.

Tip ten: take time

Know when to give each other some space– you’re spending virtually all of your time with this person which can start to be overwhelming. Taking some time to be apart helps to fight against the monotony and allows both of you to come back with new, interesting concepts that you thought of while you were apart.

The takeaway

By following these tips, you and your spouse can co-exist peacefully and continue to combine your unique skill sets to better your business.

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Destiny Bennett is a journalist who has earned double communications' degrees in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a certification in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. She has written stories for AustinWoman Magazine as well as various University of Texas publications and enjoys the art of telling a story. Her interests include finance, technology, social media...and watching HGTV religiously.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. 365frederick

    August 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    From someone who has been happily married for 26 years, and worked with hubs for half of them… these are great tips. Being clear and defining rolls is so helpful… that way things don’t fall through the cracks.

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