5 Marriage-Saving Tips for Spousal-preneurs

Considering going into business with your spouse? Or have you taken the plunge already?

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Lani Voivod. I co-own a brainstorming, marketing strategy, and content development business – Epiphanies, Inc. – with my husband, Allen.

We’ve been married since 2000, parents since 2002, and officially incorporated as a business since 2004.

We’ve “evolved” from freelance writers to content specialists to content strategists to “business owners who market our talents and services to our ideal audience.”

We share a home office, divvy up work, tag team assignments, split our time among local business groups and networking events, and are booked to speak at workshops, both together and separately, this year.

Coming at you from the eye of the proverbial hurricane – of life, parenting, and business – we often don’t know which end is up. We’re shooting for a place in the Lifestyle Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, even if we have to invent the prestigious recognition vehicle ourselves.

Those are our qualifications. Now we’d like to share with you five bits of non-platitudinal advice that could keep you in the black AND off the couch.

1. Schedule – and KEEP! – Weekly Business Meetings…During Normal Business Hours. Project Creep is a toxic reality for spouses in business. Allen and I found ourselves jotting down deadlines on car trips, using our precious pillow talk time to discuss client issues, and writing to-do tasks for work right under our grocery lists. It wasn’t pretty, and definitely didn’t work for our business or our marriage.

2. Divide and Conquer. There was a time we treated each other more like 50% of a whole, rather than two fully-functioning business owners. Once we started splitting work according to our strengths, and holding each other accountable for specific duties, things looked more promising, and less impossible. Plus, we got more done in less time, thus upgrading our profitability.

3. Outsource the Finances. Allen has his MBA with a Finance concentration. He’s managed the books for non-profits and small businesses. He also worked in the banking industry for several years. Heck, even I worked as a bookkeeper for a multi-million-dollar company for a year. One would think we could handle our own books.

One would be woefully mistaken.

Stress around finances is a killer for any married couple, so the danger is doubled, if not octupled, for spousal-preneurs. Ever since we hired a third party to keep us on track and honest about budgets, cash flow, performance targets, and small matters like payroll and taxes, we’ve crossed divorce off our list of things to do and have enjoyed focusing on our growth as a team and company.

4. Embrace Standardized Tests. We each recently took a DiSC assessment for a client. It’s designed to evaluate and analyze communication preferences, work skills, behavioral styles, professional motivations, etc. We were shocked by how different our natural and adaptive styles are. In fact, we’re polar opposites in most – if not all – areas and abilities. Comparing the reports side by side helped us identify some of our biggest communication challenges, and see why they exist in the first place. It’s changing our expectations, exposing gaps, and inviting empathy into our business at long last. We plan to take the Myers-Briggs test as soon as possible.

5. Don’t Be All Up in Each Other’s Grills. Space, people. Space. When you’re working, living, breathing, sleeping, parenting, eating, doing laundry, washing dishes, and Tivo-ing favorite TV shows together, all in the same square footage, you have to give each other time to remember you actually like and value your business partner. And your spouse. Solo excursions. Girls and Guys Nights Out. Even mini-vacations and/or business trips without the better half tagging along. Absence doesn’t only make the heart grow fonder – it often reminds you to schedule that long overdue, closed door and candlelit “lunch meeting.”

The faster you implement the above tips, the faster you’ll get to the perks – like those aforementioned “lunch meetings” – of being in business with your spouse.