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Working and sharing a business with your partner can be amazing and it can also be very stressful especially if the roles are not clearly defined or the business is struggling to survive.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses stated that around 43% of small businesses are in fact family run and 53% of small business management is shared between couples. Many couples find that establishing a business together and working to make their venture successful gives them a unique opportunity to learn more about each other but can add strain as also lets them support one another in a way they wouldn’t do if they worked with other people.
I’ve worked with many couples where a person speaks down to the other person in work, in a way they wouldn’t dare to speak to others. This was certainly the case for Fiona and Pete who ran a clothing company. Pete was constantly asking Fiona for updates on what she had done in the day for the business and made comments about how she could do things better. If Fiona suggested ways to improve their business, Pete would be defensive and respond aggressively. It was clear there was an imbalance in who got to control how the business was run. She also felt humiliated in meetings because he would tell her off in front of the staff. He felt it was good to show the team that she had no special treatment and to enforce higher standards in the business.
After a while their connection was broken, sex life went down to zero as Fiona began dreading to see him. She was holding in so much resentment that she didn’t want to be touched by him anymore.
You cannot be a micro manger or aggressive employer and then expect to have close, loving and intimate relationship with one another as emotions can spill over from work to home life. In fact I help many couples navigate how best to work together as a team in business. When they do my couples program not only do they feel happier in the relationship, their profits and revenue increases too in a positive collaborative environment. How you treat your partner in business will impact your relationship, so it’s so important to treat one another with respect, kindness and encouragement.
For couples working together –
When couples work together, they often neglect to allocate specific roles or job descriptions to one another as it is easier to become all-rounders when the business is your own. However, this leaves a lot of room for misunderstanding and conflict. Agreeing on specific roles or job description, each person is fully aware of what is expected of them in the business and there is no hierarchy of who is the boss of who.
Remember, it can be easy to snap at your partner because they are the closest one to you and you’re working together so you may see a lot more of one another than other couples who don’t work together, however, this can be worked to your advantage. Talk through your strengths and weaknesses with one another, maybe you can support one another with professional development which will in turn help your business thrive even more. Value one another’s efforts and opinions, regardless of financial success.
Any issues that arise at work should be kept at work. Limit the crossover of professional discussions into personal time. For example, have work meetings during work hours outside of the home, this will help you both distinguish between your love life and your work life. This will also encourage you both to have better quality time at home doing things you both love, rather than doing things you need to do because you’re focusing on the financial gain through your business.
Make a conscious effort to make the most of your personal time together. Working together can make you feel like you are spending enough time with one another, but the reality is working together is not the same as having fun together. Plan movie nights, nights out where you both get dressed up and go out to your favourite restaurant etc. Keep the love alive.
This point applies to all couples. Remember you are on the same team! So, your goals, efforts and beliefs should all be contributing towards a healthy future together – one that benefits you both and brings you closer together.
Plan together, make decisions together, cheer each other on and talk to one another. This makes each person in the relationship feel valued irrespective of their financial success. It also helps to refocus on the connection between you and your partner, rather than solely focusing on financial gain.