Unlike most people, who go off to work and get a break from their significant others, you work with yours. Spending nearly all your waking hours with the same person and keeping your sanity is possible, assuming you handle yourself right.
Randy and Angie Stocklin would know. As founders of Greenwood, Indiana-based One Click Ventures, an e-commerce retail company that in September launched its third online eyewear brand, felix + iris, the couple have been business partners since 2005, when they began selling eyewear out of their home office. Today, their company has grown to 65 employees and they say they couldn't have done it without each other. Here's their advice.
Delineate your roles and responsibilities.
As CEO, Randy concentrates on the company's vision, strategic direction, and financials, whereas Angie as COO handles operations, customer happiness, and merchandising. The duo say their individual strengths are complementary and their skill sets don't overlap too much, so they don't worry about stepping on each other's toes. "But if there was more overlap, it would have been critical to define those responsibilities early on," Randy says.
Make sure your team understands your roles and responsibilities.
"You don't want someone coming to ask me something and then I tell them 'no' so then they run and ask Randy to try to get a 'yes,'" Angie says. "We've tried to avoid that, if at all possible."
Don't undermine your spouse in front of others.
Because you know your husband or wife so well, it can be easy to fall into a personal dynamic when you're at work. "You have to be really careful not to undermine them in front of other people by calling out their weaknesses or calling them out for things that they've done," Angie says. "You need to be careful to respect the authority and power of your spouse inside the office."
Build a strong support system.
Smart entrepreneurs have good mentors and couples who are co-founders together can particular benefit from picking the brains of others in their shoes. "Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle choice," Randy says. "And then when you add doing it with your spouse, it consumes your entire life."