Couples in Business Together: Not Always a 50/50 Proposition

by Pamela on January 7, 2012

Accept Short-term Challenges to Achieve Long-term Success

If you’re in business with your spouse, accept the fact that, just like marriage, copreneurship isn’t always a 50/50 proposition. There will be periods when one of you will do considerably more work than the other for the good of the business. Often, it depends on whose skills are needed for the immediate task at hand. Accept it and focus on your long-term goal for success.

Okay- for those of you who will jump on me to say “of course marriage is a 50/50 proposition,” I have to argue that on a day to day basis, it’s really not. Over the course of your relationship, 100/100 is the goal, in that each of you should be putting 100% effort into home and business. But, for this article, I’m focusing on workload. Keep in mind that, on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, the balance of responsibility usually shifts back and forth. Understanding this from the beginning, and working hard to keep these imbalances brief, will save you headaches down the road.

The balance of power or responsibility is just that- balance. In your business, if you’re the partner who is carrying 70% of the workload, you can’t and shouldn’t necessarily carry that load for too long. Strive to keep things proportionate. Be present in the moment. Being present for the task at hand, within the boundaries of a long term plan, will help you maintain the flexibility necessary to make both your business and marriage successful.

It’s never too late to learn this lesson. Whether you are planning to start a business or are well into it, take the time to figure out how to best distribute the work as fairly as possible. I’m going to repeat the word “proportionate!” If you find that one partner is consistently doing far more than the other in the business, you may want to reevaluate the workload. The same holds true for your marriage or friendship. Remember, you have a common goal so work hard to achieve it.

Please don’t use ‘time’ as an issue. I often hear protests that sound something like this: “Changing course takes time and we don’t have it. We have to focus on producing.” Yes, working through any issue takes time and work. I assure you, it’s worth it. A lot of the copreneurs that I coach didn’t do this work on the front end, and it caused conflict that affected their personal relationships as well as their business relationship. That’s why they turn to me. With coaching, they worked through their issues and got on more solid ground to make their business and home life flourish.

Addendum September 6th, 2012:

I’ve been reading through some of my posts and it occurs to me that there is another scenario that I should touch upon with regard to this topic.

There are instances where, if there are children involved in your personal relationship, one spouse may work part-time for the business and part-time being at home with the kids. In this instance, you would work it out when you are planning your roles. Decide on how much time will be devoted to the business and how much time will go toward the kids. If one partner is spending 5 hours at the office, his/her role should reflect that time. In other words, you can’t expect that partner to have a role that requires 8 hours a day (or more) if they only have 5 hours to do it. It may take some trial and error to figure out the right balance.

Would the spouse that’s working part time be fulfilling their share of the 50/50? In theory, yes!

Taking care of the kids is a huge responsibility and takes a lot of work. Because one partner is filling this role, it frees the other to keep plugging away at work. In time, you may get the business to a point where you can hire someone to watch the kids if that’s what you want to do. Again, trial and error. See what works best for you and your partner.

There will always be challenges that each of you will face. Perhaps one or both of you have an elderly parent that needs attention? You may need time to take care of them, take them to appointments, etc. You will always need to make provisions for your situation. Being able to navigate the challenges and still devote the time to your business is an evolving process and will take consistent re-planning and adjusting.

Respect on both sides is essential as is teamwork.

What are some of the strategies you and your partner use to balance your workload when unforeseen challenges arise?

What steps do you take to minimize conflict?

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