No, this isn't a dating manual for interoffice romance. This is a way for you and your spouse (or significant other) to run a business in the same household, without ruining yourselves as a couple.
Let's face it, growing a business is hard work. We also know that it takes effort to have a fantastic relationship. Mixing the two can be the recipe for disaster...or an amazing growth experience. Follow these steps to properly mix love and business.
Set clear business boundaries
My business is writing, speaking, coaching and consulting. My wife really has no direct involvement (except for the occasional editorial input). However she supports me in my efforts and allows me time, without grumbling, to do the necessary tasks. She paints and does crafts for sale on and off line. Again I'm only involved when she wants an outside opinion. Neither of us moves into the other's territory without invitation.
If you are working on a business together then the boundaries will be more intermingled, but still must be somewhat defined. For example perhaps you are the creative and she is the business builder. Keeping from criticizing each other in your areas of expertise is absolutely necessary for relational harmony.
Set specific business hours
Treat your business like a job, at least as far as time is concerned. I have specific days and times dedicated to writing. During those times my wife often works on her painting. If we are going to reach our long term dreams then we must have regularly scheduled times to work on our businesses.
For home based businesses be careful that chores around the house don't encroach on your business time. Dishes, mowing the lawn, laundry and many other tasks must be completed, but if you would not do them at an office then don't do them during your business hours.
Create mutual goals
Whether you are building one business together, two separate businesses or only one of you is the entrepreneur, goals need to be set. However because you are in a loving relationship these goals should be shared with each other. I consider them household goals. In one of our rooms we have a whiteboard with inspirational quotes, pictures of places we will visit and numeric goals.
These goals are for both of us. With the goals constantly in front of us we both have incentive and reminders to help the each other reach those goals. It's a positive encouragement cycle.
Celebrate each other's successes
Recently I was published on a new large site. My wife was so excited! She sent me a great message and made sure I knew it was a big deal to her. When she creates a beautiful new painting I love to just marvel at her talent. I let her know what a wonderful job she did.
Each of us has unique talents. When those talents lead to a win, large or small, celebrating with the one we love most makes it much sweeter.
Schedule couple time
Dating is not optional. Just like you need to set business times you must set couple times. My wife and I have date night every Friday. Sometimes it's dinner and a movie, sometimes it's going out shopping together, sometimes it's a quiet evening at home.
Those times are all important in your relationship. Don't spend them going over numbers, planning your next marketing campaign or on any other business activity. This is when you recharge as a couple and grow closer together. Keep these times precious.
Put your relationship first
In business it's easy to get very wrapped up in a task or project. When writing I am tightly focused and tend to not appreciate interruptions. However sometimes couple things come up which must worked through immediately. When this happens I stop writing and focus on my lovely wife.
The reason I am building this business is to enjoy the freedom of time with her. So it would be ridiculous for me to end up a very successful entrepreneur but be all alone. Her needs trump anything related to the business. Be careful here, this one will creep up on you. Always put the relationship first.
You can have a wonderful relationship and a thriving business, but only if you properly nurture both. Creating boundaries, setting mutual goals and celebrating successes will help you stay on track together. Creating business hours and scheduling couple time will make the clock your friend for both profit and love. Putting your relationship first makes sure that your priorities are always properly aligned...along with your heart.