A very small portion of the world's population seeks adventure and dreams big, aspiring to climb Mt. Everest or sail the seven seas. There's an even smaller group willing to take on a challenge that far exceeds the dangers of these. Working with your Spouse!
My wife Jen and I made the decision to work together when we started our business Bottle Breacher, and it's one of the best choices we've ever made! (Along with appearing on ABC's Shark Tank where we scored a deal with Mr. Wonderful and Mark Cuban)
I'd argue that this is one of the most rewarding adventures any couple can take on. It offers plenty of risk, the opportunity to grow as a couple and the excitement and reward of doing what most deem to be a recipe for certain disaster.
In fact, many years ago I was the guy who swore I could never work at the same place as my wife. Little did I know that one day I'd be running a business with her!
Let's be honest, there are exceptional couples out there who finish each other's sentences, can't stand to be apart for 5 minutes, and display so much PDA it makes the rest of us normal people sick. For the rest of us there's reality.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get through the obstacles of running a business with your partner, while balancing every day issues like "Who's picking up the kids from school today?" or "What's for dinner?"
If you dare to swim in these shark-infested waters, that is!
#1. Know Your Strengths
Jen and I agree on the importance of being brutally self aware of of our own strengths. As a former Navy SEAL, I tried for over a year to recruit Jen into the business since I knew my strength was in production and product development whereas Jen, with a Bachelor's degree in Business Management, excelled in marketing, online sales, administration, and accounting.
#2. Know Your Role
Jen and I have what we like to call "swim lanes", a Navy SEAL term. We divided up the responsibilities of the company to our individual strengths, to form a powerful and effective team. We've both agreed to stick to our roles without diving into the other's "swim lane". Part of knowing your role is following the chain of command. By identifying a clear, concise chain of command, business remains fluid, communication flows both ways, and the business runs smoothly. At Bottle Breacher, Jen and I always discuss the direction of the company together, but as CEO, the ultimate decision lies with me.
Jen and I make sure they communicate what's going on in their "swim lanes". By including each other in emails, conference calls, and deliberating on big decisions, we are able to avoid back orders, running out of stock, and other potential mishaps. This is essential due to the diversity between our jobs. Inventory affects sales and marketing, and it is imperative we have fluid communication in order to meet our customers' needs during promotions, holidays and large corporate orders.
We also ensure they deliberate on all big decisions. Solid communication has proven to be the lynch pin that has made Bottle Breacher successful thus far in providing a vision and direction of where the company is going.
#4. Make Couple Time
Despite how busy we are running Bottle Breacher, Jen and I make sure to reserve "couple time" outside of the workplace. No cell phones or computers are allowed! Spending this time together away from work, helps us strengthen our bond as husband and wife.
#5. Make Family A Priority
We value family time enormously and are home for dinner every night with our two beautiful, little girls. We are always make sure to "unplug" during family time. Even if there is ton of work to be done, we agree that the first priority is to spend time with our children. Mackenzie, Jen and Eli's oldest daughter, loves to help out at work too! During the summer she often helps package Bottle Breachers. This attitude also carries over to our employees. We encourage a "Family First" attitude, often allowing employees to attend their children's school plays and other family events during work hours.
After hearing our story, we hope it has encouraged you to take the plunge into those shark-infested waters and find a rewarding opportunity for you and your spouse on the other side. Working together may seem like an unachievable goal, but with great communication, a clear vision and defining roles, you can achieve the American Dream together.