Welcome to the Spark. Short regular blogs with musings, experiences, tips, links or general knowledge to help #IgniteYourSpark.
The Spark is a regular journal, so to speak, from the world of SparkHub. We will bring to you in-house and guest blogs that cover a wide range of topics, tips, tricks, daily experiences or just a thought-provoking idea to help #IgniteYourSpark.
Today’s Spark is brought to you by SparkHub founder and chief igniter, Sara.
Some might see it as a sort of arrogance to refer to working with your partner as an “art”. I have been doing this for about 3/4 of my relationship though and let me tell you; there is an absolute art to it. But before we dive any deeper, for anyone looking for the perfect guide in the words below of “how to nail it” you’re going to be disappointed. This art is not something I have perfected, mastered or even really figured out at all yet. However, I have learned a few tricks and pitfalls to avoid along my (sorry, hon, our) journey that may help if you’re considering / struggling with the balance.
Note* for the purposes of this blog when I refer to “partner” I mean your spouse or significant other – the person you share your life, home, bed and bills with.
- If you’re working on the same business have very clearly defined roles. Chances are that the reason you got into or are thinking of getting in to business together is because you have a mutual interest in / skill for something that is potentially profitable. This is great, and a brilliant launchpad for a business. However, chances are also strong that you are unique individual beings with distinct skills. US THESE! Define from the get-go who does what and set clearly defined responsibilities. It is totally normal that there will be some overlap here but if you’re both constantly working on the same things at the same time growth will be a bitch and I can guarantee essential tasks (hello! bookkeeping) will get neglected.
- Get help! So, you’ve tightly defined your roles in your venture but in nearly every partnership there will still be some essential tasks that neither contributor has the skills for – or can be bothered with (hello! bookkeeping). It’s time to call in backup. This took us a VERY long (seriously, too freaking long) time to embrace. If you’re going to invest anywhere in the business, even if you’re a super-lean startup, it’s in outside help for the tasks not within your “zone of genius”. The magic thing about modern business and global connectivity means this help does not need to be a full time commitment for a business – think Virtual Assistants, outsourced accounting, social media contractors etc.
- Working from home? You must have an office-only space! I don’t care if this is an unused utility room, empty garage, garden shed (brrr, grab the space heater) or the box room. You must, must, must have a designated office space in your home that is for work and work only. You can share this workspace with your significant other, just ensure each of your has your own work space to avoid elbowing each other during important conference calls.
- Don’t take work to the kitchen table (or the bedroom)! This is the golden rule, whether you work from home or not. And it is the most difficult one to implement. It can be really tempting to “talk shop” even for a couple mins while you’ve got the attention of your other half over a spag-bol. Trust me, it will end up being a total relationship-killer. This becomes even more imperative when you have children. It is great for children to grow up with an entrepreneurial spirit and never be afraid to expose them to the fact that you’re growing a business, but they do not need to be privy to chats about cash flow and tricky clients during family time. As for the bedroom…well if you’re not keeping this a sacred space then the relationship (and likely the business) could be doomed.
- Take time to appreciate each other as people…and not just a coworker. Date-night is important no matter your working status but I really believe it is an absolute non-negotiable if you’re running a business together. It can be all-consuming, especially in the early days, and the absolute last thing you want is to only see each other as colleague and co-director. Date-night can be whatever you make of it but if you are working from home I would highly recommend you get out of the house at least once a week, together, sans-kids and sans-any-shop-talk.
So, in short, demarcation of the work / business / family / relationship zones and times is probably the number one tool in your arsenal for the greatest chance at success running a business with your other half. It can be tempting to blend every aspect of your lives and think that you’re getting away with it, but the cracks will begin to show my friend. I’ve lived through it with my own parents. Let me tell you, no business on earth is worth the disintegration of a relationship and family. So think and plan carefully before you make this bold move. However, when you get it right (which you won’t always, all the time) it can be a thing of magic and freedom.