How To Work With Your Spouse (and not kill each other)

If you are in business with your spouse – congratulations! It’s exciting and just like anything else you may have done together in your relationship, it takes learning and trial and error to make a harmonious partnership.

Most small business ideas in partnership start out because there is a level of respect, trust and communication already at play. This is probably why people work with their spouse often, because having an already established relationship is always helpful when you’re going into business together.

how to work with your spouse (and not kill each other)

My husband and I have been in business together for about a year, and while we still have a lot to learn, those bumpy beginning stages are pretty much over. Here are the things we learned to make our business flow a little better, and to make sure that when the laptops are shut and the lights are off – we are still us.

Set your communication methods. The way you talk to your spouse about your children or the household is not the way you work with your spouse, or so I found out. There’s a different language there, and out of love and respect for one another that you already have, you will find what your new business language is. My husband knows me so well that he knows what I’m going to say before I say it, but in business he doesn’t always. I learned I have to explain myself better, and the comfortable communication style we have in other areas, needed some work in our business relationship. Not everything will translate to your business role when you work with your spouse, so keep your eyes and heart open to your spouse in a new way.

Set working times and boundaries. We are such good friends, that sometimes when we are sitting together working, it’s easy to just look over and start chatting away about the dog’s antics that day or who he saw at the coffee shop. In those quiet times we are working when our baby is asleep, it can be hard to navigate when to work and when to play. We have gotten on top of this by having a pretty strong morning routine, planning a weekly “staff meeting,” and making a clear plan for when we are shutting down for the night (even if it’s at two different times).

Give every single task an owner. Imagine each task in your business with your spouse as a little baby. As you move throughout the day you’d (ideally) need to make sure someone is always watching your baby and that when you walk away, your spouse knows the baby is theirs to watch, and vice versa. Every task that comes up in your business needs an owner, so that nothing falls through the cracks and the blame game doesn’t get played. We use Evernote for listing out all our tasks and delineating them, it’s also a great communication tool so we aren’t sending each other 100 emails a minute.

husband and wife feet on headboard

Make a financial plan. You are probably already aware that finances can be a huge sticking point in a relationship, so I don’t have to tell you how detrimental it can be to business relationships, too. As uncomfortable as it is, there needs to be an ongoing conversation about money when you work with your spouse. Whether it’s once a month or once a quarter, whether you use spreadsheets or a good ole pen and paper, please make sure you have this conversation with your spouse as you work to grow your business. I am the first person to be uncomfortable about this topic, but I also know that it could make or break our business and I don’t want it to sit between us in our relationship. If you’re looking for resources, Dave Ramsey has always been our man on small business ideas and money!

Do a little dreaming together. I’m not sure why you started your particular business with your spouse, but I’m guessing you have some similar goals and dreams for what this business can do for others, and what it can do for your lives too. I encourage you to take some time, whether it be each month or each quarter, to re-evaluate and dream together again. Sometimes things change, and it’s so important to take your spouse on that ride with you. Even if the goals and objectives change, it doesn’t mean you aren’t on the same page – your spouse might be wanting something similar! I have come to find that blocking in this time to dream has helped me feel like I’m not in a rut with the day to day operations.

Are you a boss babe in business with your spouse? We are right there with you! Check out our Rule The Roost collection – it just might be the perfect fit for both of you!


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