My Husband And I Recently Became Business Partners, Here’s What I’m Learning
They Say A Business Partnership Is Like A Marriage
When my husband and I became business partners this past year, it felt like a natural next step in our relationship. My online business was shifting, and my husband felt inspired by my ideas. He wanted to help the business grow. I felt ecstatic to have him on board as a colleague, and I loved that he was passionate about what I was doing.
My husband is both a Gemini and a Generator (for my Human Design and Astrology aficionados). This means he is communicative, buzzing with ideas, and loves doing a lot all at once. However, I am a Pisces and a Projector, meaning my working style is more intuitive and fluid. In many ways, we are the perfect match. It seemed we could help balance one another in business.
When I shared our decision with my life coach, she was both supportive and cautionary in her advice. “Being in a romantic relationship and a business partnership can be challenging,” she said. She’d known couples who had tried going into business together without success. My life coach advised me to be careful, suggesting that I prioritize non-work related time together. I absorbed her words and proceeded with caution.
I also turned to the advice of BestSelf Co-Founder and CEO Cathryn Lavery, who writes that “choosing a business partner could be the second most important relationship you ever choose, (the first being who you marry).” I found this statement to be ironic given my situation. While Lavery’s partnership didn’t work out, and she eventually bought out her business partner, her “business partner checklist” was a helpful resource when considering my own next steps. Reading about her experience also made me grateful to have a business partner that I know well and trust.
Nonetheless, over the last six months, my husband and I have had to establish boundaries and delegate new titles and roles within our relationship. Below are the building blocks we are using to overcome obstacles and to help us to create a healthy and productive partnership.
1. Communication is key
Communication is one of the most important ingredients for a successful relationship. Yet, it is not always easy. In our business partnership, we’ve had to adjust how we share our ideas, especially since we have very different communication styles, and we’re not always careful with our tone.
For example, I’ll sometimes get frustrated when my husband wants to discuss a business idea spontaneously. I may not be prepared to listen to his idea at that exact moment. And when I don’t express enthusiasm, it can make him feel discouraged.
When we’re not careful with our tone or we too quickly shut an idea down, it causes tension and strains the business relationship. We’ve had to actively work on listening and being aware of how we respond to one another’s ideas—which leads to my next point.
2. Every idea is a good idea
My husband and I are both creative and get bursts of inspiration. To cultivate a safe space for sharing our thoughts, we have implemented the rule that every idea is a good idea. Even if the other person doesn’t love it at first, it’s just an idea, and it deserves to be heard.
We work at a long desk together, sitting across from one another as we would in an office, and so we’ve had to create boundaries for sharing these ideas. At first, we tried setting up scheduled meetings, but the structured communication didn’t work for us as it felt forced and caused tension. Instead, we found that we can honor our creative communication styles and one another’s thoughts by being patient, respectful, careful in our tone, and by first asking if the other person is available to listen.
3. Resolve conflict with constructive conversations
When conflict arises, my husband and I have learned that it’s best to give one another space. If we are in an argument, I will often work elsewhere in our house. This space offers me the opportunity first to think and process the conflict alone.
After a while, we come back together and have a conversation about why the argument occurred. We’re both committed to resolving conflict and will always make time to have a constructive conversation. My husband is particularly good at staying level-headed when voicing his thoughts and I learn a lot from how he communicates. We’ve discovered that practicing communication as business partners also teaches us to do so more clearly in our romantic relationship.
4. Lean into each other’s strengths
One of the keys to a successful business partnership is making the other person feel empowered in the strengths they bring to the table. One of the best ways to do this is by encouraging the other person’s ideas and ensuring they feel seen and heard.
My husband and I are both aware of our strengths and the different expertise we bring into collaborative projects. For example, much of our business requires filming and editing videos. He loves this work and is very skilled at it. My strengths are planning and content scheduling, so I give him clear instructions about when we will be filming and the shots we need. Leaning into our strengths allows us to do what is in our wheelhouse. It makes it easier to trust one another and to feel freedom in collaboration.
5. Make time for plenty of “non-work” related time together
When my husband and I first went into business together, we dove headfirst—just like when we began dating. All our time and conversations during the first few months were about the business. As you can imagine, this was not sustainable and resulted in long days, miscommunication, and exhaustion. We realized we needed to make space for non-work related time together.
For us, this looks like not talking about business once we’ve logged off for the day. Instead, we create weekend plans and go on date nights at least once a week. We go out (safely) or simply sit together at home without distractions.
It’s taken time to establish these practices, and as we continue to grow in both our romantic and business partnership, there will likely be additional practices we’ll need to implement. If at first, a partnership seems challenging in any way, pause and take a moment to consider the obstacles you’re facing. Start having conversations about any challenges early on to work on pain-points that could be limiting the growth and success of the business. From there, establish what works for you and the other person.
For those who are or have been in a romantic/business partnership, we would love to hear your stories and thoughts! Share in the comments below.
Courtney Jay is a writer at The Good Trade. She is also a yoga instructor, health enthusiast, and sustainable fashion advocate. She believes the most powerful way to nurture the planet is to nurture ourselves. You can find more of her writing and take one of her online yoga classes on her website Coincide.