Five Tips for Successfully Working with Your Spouse


by Maureen Page

Family businesses are notorious for being very successful or for crashing and burning, but they are rarely for known for anything in between. This is because the synergy between the spouses can truly inspire the best in each or bring out the worst in both. My husband and I just celebrated our tenth year in business together, and I'm proud to say that we fall into the first camp most of the time. However, our success has not come without special challenges, and I have some tips to share with you that are critical to your business' success when working with your spouse.

1. Clearly define your roles and keep them as separate as possible.

"Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the pot," they say. But a great cook and someone who likes to plan and shop can be a match made in heaven. The spouses' skills should complement, not compete, with each other. Be clear about who has the authority over which areas of the business and have as little overlap as possible. If you disagree on a particular plan of action, the person who has authority over this area makes the final decision, eliminating most, if not all, power struggles.

2. Keep the rest of your family out of the business.

It's tempting at times to hire other family members and friends because you know and trust them, they really need the work, or various other reasons. Resist the temptation! Make it a "policy" not to hire family or close friends. Working with your spouse is challenging enough. Adding other family members and friends makes it infinitely harder. Plus, nepotism will not bode well with your other employees.

3. Always treat each other with respect and professionalism.

How you treat your spouse on the job will set the example and tone for how you expect other employees to treat each other. If you don't want your managers shouting at employees, then make sure you don't shout at each other, either. When your employees see you solving difficult problems with professionalism and compromise, they are much more likely to do the same.

4. Keep your private life out of the office.

Ideally, a new employee should not even be aware that you are married. Employees will respect each of you more if they believe you are in your position because you are good at it and not because you are "married to the boss." Never discuss your private life with other employees. If the two of you are struggling at home, set that aside as much as possible at work. If your relationship is having a particularly hard day, let one of you stay home that day so the tension is not carried into the office.

5. Excellent communication is essential.

It's good that my husband and I had been married for many years before we started our business because over those years we had learned to communicate really well. And I'm not just referring to business-related communication like how to effectively run a meeting or communicate your marketing ideas. Spouses who run a business together also need to be able to discuss their feelings about the business with each other. You need to be able to discuss the hard stuff like feeling taken for granted, or disrespected, or overwhelmed. You need to be able to discuss these issues with honesty and respect for one another. Feelings will get hurt if you're speaking honestly, and you need to find a way to get past hurt feelings and find solutions that work.

Operating a business with my spouse has been incredibly rewarding. I believe our company is thriving because our unique skills complement each other so well. With exceptional communication and utmost respect for one another, our marriage continues to thrive as well as our business.

Maureen Page is vice president of Discount Security Cameras, your source for quality security cameras and systems. To learn more about security camera systems and video surveillance, visit the Discount Security Cameras Interactive Security Camera Learning Center.

Originally posted on The Business of Being Monique

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