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From Romance To Revenue: Four Rules To Remember When Running A Business With Your Spouse Working in the same line of business and sharing matching objectives makes it easy for both to understand when success is reached, and both can share a sense of job satisfaction together.

By Sarah Lindsay

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One of the most popular benefits of starting a business is having the flexibility to spend more time with family and loved ones. You are your own boss, and you can set your hours to best fit your lifestyle. However, some entrepreneurs want to spend even more time with their spouse, including during work hours, and so, they decide to start their own co-owned business venture- as my husband Rich and I did when we opened the first branch of Roar Fitness in London in 2016.

Eight years and four branches of Roar Fitness later, I've found that working with your spouse comes with many pros, with one being that you get to share so much of your life's successes and achievements together. When couples work in different industries, it can be difficult to understand the intricacies of their spouses' work, and so, they often cannot fully grasp or measure the level of success in the other's careers. Working in the same line of business and sharing matching objectives makes it easy for both to understand when success is reached, and both can share a sense of job satisfaction together.

Rich Phillipps and Sarah Lindsay, founders of Roar Fitness. Source: Roar Fitness

We get asked about the reality of working together all the time, as many say that they could not imagine working with their spouse. But having done it and made it work successfully for many years, these are my learnings and the rules we follow to make sure running a business together works on every level for us.

1. Have the same goal Working together as a team, my husband Rich and I are a well-oiled machine, with the same common goal and dream. We are very aligned as to where we want to go, and that's never in question for a moment. It doesn't mean we always agree on how to get there, or on what is best for the business, as how to achieve success can often look different to a couple. But the key is for both parties to always want the same outcome, and to focus on that. A bit of healthy debate and discussion along the way is good fun, and part of the journey.

2. Share the workload As a business partner, your spouse will have a very clear understanding of your work-life balance, and thus will be in an excellent position to provide support and advice. Interestingly, studies have shown that there is a lesser chance of burnout when you work with your significant other- just in case you needed another great plus point! The need to endlessly juggle and try to integrate work and home life is removed, and therefore, you are left with more energy and resources to invest in both areas.

At work, Rich and I have different roles within the business, and we play to each of our strengths, which, in the long run, brings out the best in the business. My husband is a very natural leader, and he focuses on more team management and day-to-day operations; plus, he's a spreadsheet and numbers genius, so I leave all the commercial things to him! In my role, I get to focus on the more creative (and fun!) areas, including marketing and publicity, as well as doing a lot of the new joiner consultations. This didn't happen overnight, of course, and it all happened very organically, but we quickly learned our strengths, and what we both enjoyed, and with time, we've honed in on our skills, split the work fairly and evenly, diminished any chance of being overloaded, and today, it's working really well.

3. Open communication As a couple in business together, much like in a marriage, the key to success is to communicate honestly and openly at all times, with the obligation of holding each other accountable. Having very open, honest, and direct conversations and communication is vital, and integrating this into our work relationship helps us to implement this into the rest of our lives, not only with each other, but with our team, and the rest of our family too.

4. Remain professional at all times Every couple argues, and it is imperative to leave any of your personal issues outside of the workplace, remaining positive and professional, and producing the same level of work consistently, regardless of the situation at home. This not only contributes to your productivity and positivity, but also to your employees who play a vital part of your company success– no one wants to have to take sides, after all! Keeping your team happy, positive, productive, and not affected by any of your challenges as a couple is key to keeping the business running in the right direction. As ever, when it comes to working with your other half, there is no one right path that suits all, or that will help to overcome the challenges that arise when working together. Every couple is different, and they will come across different challenges as they go along. If you do choose to go down this path, you need to find your own way, and test and learn, as with everything in entrepreneurial life.

My final thoughts and words of experience for you would be to just not overthink it too much, or obsessively keep a tally of who does what, as this won't get you very far. Keep communicating, be proactive in making choices about combining your lives, and, ultimately, enjoy what you do together. And if you do all this, then I strongly feel that success -and all the other good stuff- will follow.

Related: Married To The (Startup) Mob: Couples As Co-Founders

Sarah Lindsay

Owner, Roar Fitness

Sarah Lindsay, a three-time Olympic speed skater, is the owner of Roar Fitness.  

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