How To Successfully Run a Business With Your Spouse

By Liz Nable, Franchisee of Xtend Barre

Around 70 percent of Australian businesses are family-owned and operated, with a large portion of these being husband and wife partnerships.

My husband Adam and I are one of these Australian entrepreneurial businesses and own three (soon to be four!) studios.

But a happily married couple does not always make a happy and successful business partnership. Starting your own business is very stressful (understatement!) and consumes a lot of your daily life.

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Adding the most prominent and important person in your life to the equation can be risky – so make sure you know it’s the right move before you make it. ‘Business’ + ‘your other half’ is not always the best combination.

We were lucky that my strengths were his weaknesses and vice-versa, meaning our combination of skills complemented each other perfectly.

Adam has a background as a professional athlete turned investment banker, meaning he had the accounting, payments, tax and all other numbers under control. My background was as a television news journalist, and my 15 years of experience meant I naturally took on the role of marketing, public relations and staff management.  

Don’t get me wrong, living and working together is not all long lunches and loving looks.  It’s hard.  It’s super stressful and it’s lots of compromise.  

But, if you’re both driven by the same ambitions and the same motivations to make it work, if your long term vision for your business is the same, then a husband and wife team can be the best, most rewarding kind of business partnerships to be in. So, here are my top five tips to running a business with your spouse.

Learn to listen

People say that the thing you dislike about your (business) partner is also the thing you love about them the most. Have your opinion but stay open-minded and listen to what your partner has to say, even if you don’t agree.

Holding a grudge is not possible when running a business, so have an argument by all means  (it can be quite cathartic!) but you’d better be prepared to get over it quickly too.

Define your roles and responsibilities

Lucky for me, Adam is great with numbers so he is in charge of the financials. Ideally your strengths should be your partners weaknesses. Respect what your partner is good at and compliment with their weaknesses.

Separate your work spaces

Even it’s as simple as having your desks at opposite ends of the house, you don’t want to be working in each other’s personal space.

Being married and business partners, it can also be nice to take a break and go out for a night with the girls or even for a quick class at the gym to have some time on your own. Having your own personal space at times will make it easier to work together as a team.

Respect each other at work and at home

Responsibilities need to be 50/50 when it comes to housework and looking after the kids. You’re equal at work so you should be at home too.

Communication is crucial and being clear with expectations of your partner can avoid resentment and frustration between you. The housework is just like tasks in a business. One of you can’t slack off and rely on the other to get it all done.

Take time away from work life and ban all talk of business while you’re in this space

This has been extremely tough for us, but there needs to be balance. Separate your “business time” from your “married time.”

Remove distractions and get out of the house with your spouse to enjoy time away from anything work related. It can be hard but even an hour can help reduce the stress of work.


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