When we first started our consulting business, my involvement was initially only going to be temporary. I didn’t have the option return to my previous career once I had a family nor did I want the commitment of some random role just 2-3 days per week. But I needed the stimulation that my work gives me, even if some days it was just for my sanity from the children and the busy life this entails!
Like so many other couples who go into business together, Kym and I had never worked together and initially it was challenging. We come from such different careers and had a totally different approach to how we went about things. But over the years we have learnt how to work together and play to our strengths as we continue to build a fabulous group of businesses, where we are also fortunate to be able to share the journey together.
We have made many compromises and had numerous debates over decisions we have made to achieve what we have to date. But I believe that because we are so different in our approach and our experiences that this continues to challenge us to reach new heights, push boundaries and take our business ideas and activities to the next level.
For us to be able to reach this point there have been a few key things I would like to share with you, so that you too can survive going into business with your partner and ultimately thrive!
- Life plan – In addition to your business plan, establish a life plan where you set clear goals for where you both want to be in the next 3-5 years. You need to ensure you are both on board, aligned and know the direction you want to take and make the commitment to each other that you are going to achieve this.
- Roles and responsibility – you must be crystal clear on who is responsible for what, if you aren’t clear on this how are your team supposed to know or each other? If you need clarity, put together position descriptions and clearly define this so that you are both on the same page and remember to play to each of your strengths.
- Communication – you need to manage and maintain your communication, listen to each other, talk to each other, bounce ideas off each other.
- Remain professional – all couples have arguments and things to work through, but for yourselves and your employees you need to ensure you remain professional at all times and always respect each other’s thoughts and opinions.
- Boundaries – put some boundaries around work and non-work related discussions, so that you are focused on that moment and not distracted. This is particularly important at home with your children who need your full attention!
- Stay positive – be realistic in your approach as there are going to be times that are tough and when difficult decisions will need to be made. Talk to each other and allow time to vent, but be conscious of staying positive and help each other get back up again and focus on the bigger picture.
- Manage your finances – going into business is challenging, particularly if both partners are earning their income from the same business. Make sure at least one of you are on top of your cash flow and constantly manage your outgoings for both the business and personally.
- Take time out – one of the most difficult things to do if you are just starting out. But you need to plan ahead and schedule time out. You will be surprised just how energised and enthusiastic you become!
Most people who take the plunge and start a business with their partner do so because they are looking for flexibility; to work around their family and have the lifestyle they dream of, with the added benefit of financial stability. Unfortunately, most of these businesses don’t make it past the first few years. But for those that do they have the ability to create something really special.
We spend so much time working, who better to do this with than your partner. It has the potential to be one of the most rewarding things you will do together. Share the journey and thrive from the experience together!