Til Death (or the Company) Do Us Part: Working with Your Spouse
BY Mayra Jimenez
Yes, you can work with your spouse -- and survive it.
While on our honeymoon, my husband and I pondered what life would be like post-wedding. Did we want to stay in our current jobs? Live in the same place? Start a family right away? Even though we were both fortunate to have successful careers, we wanted to embark on a journey that would allow us to have financial independence while creating an impact.
We started our company with a passion and a dream, thinking his technical experience and my creative drive could create a good combination. We didn't, however, give a lot of thought to the iffy situations you can run into while running your business with any partner, let alone your spouse. It's not an easy road, but it's quite fulfilling to know that you are creating something together. Here's how we survive:
Establish boundaries with each other's roles This may be a golden rule for normal business partners, but it's even more crucial for spouses. When two people have equal ownership of the business, it's tough to decide who's right if each vote is worth 50%. Make sure you establish who will make the calls on each area of the business, and then butt out when a decision falls in your spouse's territory.
Keep date night The pressures of running a small business together can put all sorts of strains on your relationship. That's why couples who run businesses together need a date night, just as couples with children do. Pick a day of the week to have date night, and plan something different every time. Keep the romance alive! It's the reason why you embarked on this journey with your spouse in the first place.
Don't take your work home Business owners are usually workaholics. When you work with your spouse, it's challenging not to bring your work home. Our number one rule is "no 'work talk' after we leave the office." Yes, we break that rule every once in a while, but our goal is to separate married time from business time.
Wash your dirty laundry in your office, with the door shut The differences that make you good partners in a marriage might not make you such good business partners. You might envision different routes for your company's growth, for instance. Make sure you air your disagreements in scheduled meetings, behind closed doors. Otherwise, your employees can feel caught in the middle, and most importantly, you lose your standing as a team.
The most important thing to remember when running a business with your life partner is to enjoy the ride. It might be a wild one, but watching something you created together grow and thrive far outweighs the difficulties of leading together.
In 2007, MAYRA JIMENEZ and her husband founded The Orchid Boutique, which specializes in designer swimwear made in their native Colombia. Today, Orchid Boutique is a multimillion-dollar business. @mayra_j