Just recently, Lou and I celebrated our one year anniversary as business partners. You’ll recall that I started my own law practice just a little over three years ago, and my husband joined me in practice a little over a year ago. To say that it has been an amazing year would be an understatement! We have not only reached the goals we set out with, but we surpassed them! The decision to go out on our own has been life changing. There’s just something about becoming your own boss that is so freeing and exhilarating! Don’t get me wrong, it definitely requires lots of hard work and commitment, but in the end it sure pays off!
One of the questions we both get asked a lot is “How can you guys work together?” When people hear that we are business partners they are either impressed or perplexed, either way they are intrigued! And I totally understand their reaction. For some couples, space and a separation between home and work are necessary. But that’s not the case for all couples. Working together has come natural for Lou and I. We don’t just make it work, we actually enjoy it! I’ll let you in our secret, we actually like each other 😉
In all seriousness, working with your spouse has many benefits. For starters, we both get to make our own schedules! This is super convenient when you have little ones that you have to plan your days around. Another bonus is the fact that my husband gets me like no one else, and I he. We’re basically at the point where we can talk to each other just by looking at each other! Working with someone who knows you better than you know yourself is amazing! He’s my sounding board anyway, now he just serves in an official capacity as well!
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For those of you who are still wondering, here is how we make being business partners work!
1. Work towards the same goals
Lou and I have conversations, pretty much on a weekly basis, that address our goals. We set them, evaluate them, and if necessary, we revise them. If we reach a goal, then we quickly set new and higher ones! The main point here being that we are always working towards the same goal. Don’t get me wrong, we have our own individual goals too. For instance, Lou likes to return all of his phone calls and emails by the end of the same day they are received. I am meticulous about our schedules, and on a daily basis I find myself making sure that all of our calendars are in sync. But our main goal has always been the same: To establish a successful practice where we are able to give our clients the absolute best representation while still prioritizing the importance of strong family relationships.
2. Don’t expect the other to work the way you work
We may be working towards the same goal, but we definitely don’t have to get there the same way! Take our working environments for example. Lou works best when he is in the office sitting at his desk with all of his files at his fingertips. I on the other hand, do just fine working from home so long as I have my computer and phone with me. There are so many different types of workers. Some people work well under pressure, others need plenty of time to prepare. Some people can handle a lot on their plate while others like to work on just one project at a time. And all of that is ok! As long as you both understand each other and manage your expectations of the other, this can work! We may take a different path, but we’re both headed to the same finish line.
3. Share the duties 100/100, Not 50/50
Here’s the deal, although legally we may own the company 50/50, we both want to see this business succeed. So that means that we EACH have to be willing to invest 100% into the business and not 50%. I will be there to pick up Lou’s slack, and he will be there to pick up mine. If I’m in charge of paying our bills and I haven’t gotten around to it because I’m busy meeting a deadline, then it’s important that Lou take charge and pay the bills so that there is no interruption in the day-to-day operation. If Lou is set to meet with a client but he’s running late, then I need to make sure I’m up to speed on the case and prepared to meet with the client for him. There is no pointing fingers when a mistake happens, there’s just brainstorming sessions and coming up with ways to fix it and prevent it from happening again. We have to be there for the other 100%, not 50%.
If you can apply the above to your business relationship, along with having open lines of communication and a positive mindset, then becoming business partners with your spouse is the dream!