Alexandra Cain Freelance witer
Working with your other half can make a lot of sense for many couples. It can be a great way to manage family responsibilities and, if your work is your passion, spend time building your life’s work together.
But it is really important to have some ground rules in place to make sure both your romantic and business relationship thrive well into the future. Let’s take a look at the three golden rules for operating a great business and maintaining a harmonious home life.
1. Have clearly defined and separate roles
Often couples who work together in a business work together best when there is a clear delegation between their skills and strengths. One partner might be front of house, while the other is back of house. In other businesses, one might be the creative force while the other is the numbers wizard.
Of course, the reality in how the division of labour works in most businesses run by couples will probably be more nuanced and negotiated over time, depending on each other’s strengths. Be prepared to adapt your roles as the business grows and when life events happen such as the arrival of children.
2. Agree how conflict will be handled
There’s conflict in every relationship, but bringing personal problems into the workplace when you’re the business owners but also a couple is unprofessional. Have a plan for handlingconflict before it happens.
This includes minor fights right up to what will happen if the romantic relationship ends. Think through how this will happen, including how any equity in the business will be dealt with so that it and any employees are not affected.
3. Switch off at home
If your work premises are in a different location to your home, a great way to separate the two is to try not to bring work home. If you do operate your business from home, segregate work and family areas and focus on family life during family time.
If you have kids, they probably don’t need to hear every miniscule aspect of the business discussed around the dinner table, but it’s also a good way to teach them about the commercial world. So try to strike the right balance between private life and work at home.
Similarly, your staff don’t need to hear every little detail about your personal life. The rule is: don’t take personal liberties at work that would not otherwise be enjoyed by your employees, to help maintain a good work culture.
Like anything in life, of course, these rules are just a guide. Some families will live and work from the same spot quite harmoniously. Similarly, it is possible for couples to have the same skills and work together – for instance in a doctors’ surgery. It’s all about finding the right balance for you and your family and being open to change and able adapt when the circumstances require it.
About the author
Alexandra Cain is a finance journalist who contributes regularly to The Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Please note that this article is not financial product advice and does not take into account any person’s individual objectives, financial circumstances or needs.