Creating a startup is no easy feat and creating a startup with your partner adds a different element of complexity and challenges. There are many pros and cons for going into business with your partner, pros; you know them well, there’s an intimate level of trust, a greater understanding of behaviours and how their personality works but on the flip side it can blur the lines between business and personal roles, work/life boundaries and communication and relationship challenges can surface.
I’m part of a husband and wife team behind Australian event, New Beginnings Fair which is a festival for small business owners. Marcos and I wanted to work on a project and combine our pretty different skills sets for a while and then on a holiday to Hamilton Island, we started brainstorming ideas and it all came to life pretty quickly. We got back from that trip, bought the domain and started reaching out to businesses we wanted to be involved.
Overall, it’s been a super fun (at times stressful) couple of years. I remember a few people saying “you guys are crazy for wanting to work with each other” but you know what? It just works and even after 10 years of being a couple, it’s allowed us to learn more about each other which I didn’t really think was possible. New Beginnings Fair is also a side hustle for us which means we don’t spend 24/7 together as we both have other things we focus on.
Here are some tips that have worked for us and for you to think about if you’re thinking about going into business with your significant other.
Define & Separate Your Roles.
Be clear from the start on what each of your roles are within the business. I have experience in HR/Business/Sales and Marcos has skills in Advertising/Marketing, so we both focus on different parts of the business. By having an understanding of your separate skill sets, you can then look at whether or not you need to hire experts in different fields to help you grow the business.
Don’t Forget To Celebrate.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of business and we can sometimes lose track of our progress. So something that is really important to us is celebrating our wins, big or small. This gives us a sense of achievement in the business and makes us excited to continue working hard. We also don’t take ourselves or the business too seriously cause at the end of the day if it’s not fun I don’t want to be doing it.
Put up your hand if you’ve come home from work and ranted about your day to your completely uninterested partner! Yep, we’ve all been there. It’s so easy to not switch off when it’s your own business, so we found having a time where we stopped talking about our business helpful (i.e 8pm on weekdays and at least one day on a weekend). When you’re in it together it’s important to remember that your relationship is more than just your business.
Discuss Your Vision, Expectations & Dreams.
Being open about your own vision, expectations and dreams for the business with your partner is vital. If you’re both not on the same page, then you could see the business going in two different directions and this is where conflict can arise. Take the time to sit down regularly with your partner and chat about your dreams for the business; often you might have a creative idea they hadn’t even thought of yet.
Image: Kaitlyn Bristowe