For many co-preneurial couples, no part of life is separate from the other's; your financial, spiritual, professional and family lives are intertwined. Because of that co-preneurs face some unusual challenges but also reap some magnificent rewards.
As a result of both my work with co-preneurs and my personal experience as one--building my own business (AFriendlyDivorce.com) with my husband, David--I have come to see that there are no easy answers. What works for some will be a disaster for others. However, some key concepts are essential to making co-preneurship work. Here are my top six tips for working with your spouse.
- Be patient. Its necessary to learn to work together. So, when you start a new business, be prepared for a learning curve. It takes time to establish the right working relationship and pace. So whatever you decide today may not be what you are following tomorrow. Starting your new venture will involve trial and error. Just don't get discouraged.
- Find and define your shared vision and values. Shared vision and values are necessary for success. Its important that co-preneurs agree on the purpose of their business. Is it a way of life or a way to earn an income? You will be making business decisions based on your priorities and values.
- Divide the work. The more distinction you have in your tasks and job descriptions, the better. For many couples, dividing tasks according to ability, not gender stereotypes, is difficult. But this is what works best. As with all business partnerships, co-preneurship will work best if you and your husband possess different skill sets.
- Communicate. Find out how your husband really feels. Have you considered how this endeavor will effect your marriage? Take about it. Write about it.
- Fight fair. Hear each other out. Keep all arguments focused on the current dispute instead of reverting back to old hurts and squabbles. And, when you disagree, give yourselves a cooling-off period before making the final decision.
- Put the saver, not the spender, in charge of money, finances and budgets. The spender may go kicking and screaming, but this is almost always the best business policy.
Elinor Robin, "The Relationship Mediator," has more than 18 years of experience in mediation while working within the public and private sectors.