Now more than ever, with the shifting of current labor trends and new opportunities for entrepreneurial ventures online, many married couples are increasingly finding themselves pooling their professional resources and sharing the additional responsibility of managing an actual family business together.
It's certainly true that there are many benefits to be enjoyed from embracing the small family business lifestyle. For one thing, by sharing a family-run business a couple can create a non-traditional work schedule to uniquely fit their family's situational needs, such as who picks the kids up from school, walks the dog, or makes trips to the super market at what time. There may also be opportunities to model valuable life skills to children who can be included from an early age in some of the family business operations.
Despite the potential advantages about being both life and business partners with your spouse, it's highly common for couples to struggle with the challenges of working together, especially when there are high financial stakes at play.
If you and your partner find yourselves in a similar predicament, it may be helpful to consider a few of these common organizational and relational suggestions that most work environments often rely upon to help keep their team of employees in the swing of things:
- As a couple, you can start by deciding who has skills in which areas of your business, and then delegate responsibilities to match your individual talents. In any other office setting, you wouldn't often expect an accountant to share the duties of someone in sales! If one of you is great at customer service and the other is great at managing the books, why not stick to that dynamic? Chances are, your family business will benefit when everyone is doing what they do best.
- Maintain a consistent schedule, and try to get work done in separate spaces whenever possible. That way, you can look forward to coming together for some quality time when the work day is over, and uphold healthier boundaries in your relationship.
- Try to stay flexible and compassionate towards your co-worker (spouse), the same way you would in a corporate setting with an employee who you aren't married to. This can be hard when you ask your spouse to do something for the business, and you know that instead of attending to it immediately they opted to watch a baseball game on TV or hit the gym. As long as your spouse gets the task done on time, keep in mind that everyone needs some down time to recharge, and you don't have to necessarily take it personally just because you are married to your business partner.
- Use technology. There are many free and accessible online tools to help you remain organized and communicate information clearly, cutting down on time spent outside of regular work hours catching each other up on the day's dealings. No one has to worry about "nagging," or feeling "nagged" for that matter, if the answer to a progress-oriented question is regularly updated on a shared spreadsheet.
- Plan and stick to holding a weekly "staff meeting" at the beginning or end of every week. This ritual is something that most successful businesses do, and can go a long way to helping you identify and work together towards definitive, achievable goals.
Ultimately, having direct access to watching your spouse achieve career goals and shine in their area of expertise can have an positive impact on a relationship. The main thing to remember is to maintain communication and respect each other's individual skills, observe important work/life balance boundaries, and have flexibility for your spouse as you would for any co-worker in a professional setting.
Working together can be stressful, but the benefits can more than justify the drawbacks. With a little compassion and a whole lot of commitment, it can be a wonderful way to create an ideal life situation for your family. After all, there's nothing better than having a synchronized vacation schedule!
If you have difficulty balancing your family business and your family I am always here to help!
Call us at Modern Family Counseling at 732-742-0329 for more information about our services or to schedule an appointment with our therapists!