Barbeque season is coming up and you own a barbeque furniture  business with your spouse. Decisions need to be made. What trade shows are you going to participate in? What publications will you advertise in? How do you turn a small marketing budget into big results?

Leah Carey and Carl Scholz are a husband and wife team who own Ardent Goods, manufacturers of stylish wood grilling stations for charcoal grilling enthusiasts. A few years ago, their startup business was struggling to get off the ground - their products were finding a market, but slowly. It seemed money was flying out as fast (or faster) than it was flying it.

And they couldn't seem to agree on the big decisions.

If the sales of one product soared, then sales of their other product dropped. Sometimes a trade show or advertising campaign worked and sales soared in, sometimes it didn't and they'd feel they wasted their money.

And barbeque season was coming up ...

Pulling in the same direction, agreeing on the big decisions, is important for any business, and for any business partnership. But, let's face it, it's even more important when you are working with your spouse.

The one thing that you have to agree on before anything else, is the future story. The details, like what trade show you want to go to this year, or where you are going to source your wood from, can be sorted out if you both agree on the future story of your business.

Not some grand vision statement on the wall, but an actual, concrete story of what your future will be like.

Where is the business going? In 10 years from now, 20, 30? What kind of business will it be? Who will be running it? What is the customer base going to be like? What will Leah and Carl be telling their grandchildren about their business and what they built 30 or 40 years from now?

I told Leah and Carl to each tell the future story of their business and it turned out that they each had a slightly different future envisioned.

Carl saw them as high end artisan furniture builders with their wood grilling stations on the porches of the upper middle class and advertised in designer home decor magazines.

Leah saw the business as a outdoor, lifestyle business, appealing to a young hipster generation who liked a little style at their tailgating party.

Do you see where this is going?

Nowhere fast.

Once Carl and Leah realized they had different future stories, and agreed on a shared story, everything changed.

Decisions were so much easier. Ideas came to them that were executable and brilliant. They stopped unconsciously pulling in two different directions and started to pull the business toward the future they both wanted.

And the grillin's never been better.

Published on: Jul 19, 2016
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