Starting a business with my spouse has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences my husband Donald and I have had as a couple. There have been times that I have asked myself, “what did I get myself into?” and there have also been times that we have celebrated together for achieving our goals and dreams. Through it all, in the end, there’s nothing like sharing the payoffs of working together toward a common goal with a life partner.
Here are a few things you should take into consideration if you are planning to start a business with your spouse:
Identify each other’s roles– Determine up front the areas of responsibility and to whom they fall. Write clear job descriptions; this will minimize arguments. Because you may both have similar skill sets, these early decisions and assignment of duties are critical to your success and will allow for a smoother working relationship. My husband and I made the mistake of not doing this in the beginning and we were a mess trying to work together. We were all over the place because we had no direction. He would make decisions on certain things that were clearly my expertise. Then I would have to go behind him to reverse or fix what he did. We learned early on how important it is to have a set job description so we can get things done right the first time. I leave his strengths to him and he now leaves my strengths to me.
Pick the leader – Someone has to be the face of the company and will be the person who handles sales, communication and networking. The other will be responsible for the handling of day-to-day operations. Figure out up front who makes the final decisions or if the decisions will be jointly held (meaning it has to be unanimous). Remember too that it is okay not to get everything you want all the time. If one person is more passionate about a particular situation or decision then let that person take the lead on it. My husband works a very demanding full time job that requires about 10-12 hours a day. Then he comes home to work on our ministry and to focus on Instant Christ™. It’s important for us to schedule alone time together once a week and spend time with our family on the weekends to keep a healthy balance in our marriage and family.
Schedule personal time with each other – When starting a new business, couples are putting in a lot of hours working to get the business off the ground. We schedule at least two or three date nights a month to relax, be together and truly in the moment without talking about business. Also, make it a priority to schedule family time on the weekends with the kids so they don’t feel left out. This will ensure that it’s not only all about work, there’s playtime too.
Set a budget and emergency fund – We realized early on that it is very important to have a budget in place in the beginning so you both have a clear picture of all your ongoing expenses and income. Starting a business is costly and most businesses do not see a profit until 1 or 2 years later. Always have an emergency fund set up for a rainy day and stick to the budget you’ve set no matter what.
Create an office space at home – Don’t rush out and spend money on a traditional office space right away. Create dedicated office space in your home with a door that can be closed and is away from the traditional shared spaces in the home, That way not only will you save money, but you will learn to work together in a loving, creative environment. If you don’t have the space then turn one of your spare bedrooms or the den into your office space.
Laugh together – Starting a successful business and maintaining a healthy marriage is two jobs in one! There may be times when you are tired or even stressed out. But don’t forget to enjoy each other’s company while working together and laugh as much as possible. If you have fun while working then that’s a recipe for success. For us, it has been quite the journey, and once we were able to work out the kinks it all brought us closer together.
Cenaca Cyprian is the co-founder of Instant Christ and founder and CEO of TeamNakedfine.com, an Internet-based community that empowers women to eat and live a healthy lifestyle to tackle obesity, diabetes and other health related issues. She built Nakedfine.com from her personal experience with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being a borderline diabetic. Cenaca volunteers at many homeless shelters in Houston and believes that giving back to those who are in need is the path to greatness. She is a graduate of Jackson State University with a B.S. in Healthcare Administration and holds an M.S. from Mississippi College in Health Service Administration. She is also licensed by NESTA as a personal fitness trainer.