When I first told my friends and family that my partner (now wife) Nikki and I were going to start a business together, I think they all thought we were mad. Running a business is hard enough – but to run a business with your spouse requires even more effort.
But I didn’t care – I knew we could make it work, and we have. Our business is not just surviving, it’s thriving. And as for us as a couple? I couldn’t be more in love with Nikki, she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and our relationship gets stronger every day.
Many people think it’s impossible for couples to work together, but I’m here to tell you that it can be done and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to go on this crazy ride with anyone else!
Together, we founded Cadenshae – a company making activewear for pregnant and nursing moms, worldwide. The idea for the business came about when Nikki was struggling to breastfeed our first daughter in her sports bra after a workout, so she decided to make some nursing sports bras. Nikki said to me, ‘I think this will fly…shall we do it?’ To which I replied, ‘yeah girl, let’s give it a crack!’
That was in 2015, and in 2020 Cadenshae is set to turnover close to $7 million. We’ve done alright if I do say so myself, especially when you consider the fact we’ve had four kids in this time.
Exact numbers of spouses who run a successful business are hard to come by, but around two-thirds of businesses in the U.S are family owned, and a third of those are run by couples.
10 Ways To Run A Business With Your Spouse
Nikki and I have made it work and I want to share some tips for how to run a business with your spouse successfully. It isn’t rocket science, but it does take some doing…
1. Love Each Other
Firstly, you really have to love each other. If a part of you doesn’t like your life/business partner…it will fester. You have to be in this for the long haul.
2. Have Clear Roles & Responsibilities
Have a clear understanding of ‘who does what.’ When you know you’re responsible for X, Y and Z while your partner takes care of A, B and C then you know who is the ‘boss’ of that particular area and who makes the final call. It makes sense to do what you’re good at, or better at. For example, Nikki is the creative mind – she does all the clothing design and I leave her to it. Whereas the day-to-day running of the factory is all on me. Obviously we ask each other’s opinions on things, but we know who’s running what and we don’t butt in.
3. Make Decisions Together
Don’t make major business decisions without consulting your partner. You may know your partner better than anyone, but it doesn’t mean you can always speak for them. I made a snap decision once and just ‘assumed’ Nikki would agree with me…I assumed wrong. Anything major, consult.
4. Constant & Open Communication
Constant communication and support. This is vital…we have four children, so we really need to work as a team. If Nikki has a late night meeting, it means I have to step up at home, and vice versa. We’re always checking in to see how the day is panning out and what that will mean for night-time with the children.
5. Encourage & Support One Another
You’ve got to encourage each other and give positive feedback when due. Sometimes as couples we forget to do this, make an effort to pat each other on the back…no one else will.
6. Leave Business at the Office
Leave business matters at the office. As soon as we walk through the door at home, we are husband/wife and parents…not business partners.
7. Take Time For Each Other
Take time out. We all need alone time and it’s especially vital when you spend 24/7 together. Nikki and I support each other to go and, ‘do our own thing,’ when needed.
8. Be Honest With Each Other
We never play the ‘my job is harder than yours,’ game. Just agree you’ve both got hard jobs at times, you’re both tired and support each other instead of bickering. There are no winners in that argument. Ever.
9. Schedule Date Nights
Schedule in date nights. No business chat. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business, but you’ve got to keep the romance alive…
10. Set Goals Together
And finally, at the end of each year we set family, business and personal goals together for the following year. This means we know what we’re campaigning for and we’re both on the same page. Set expectations early and then watch them roll out.
Working with your spouse can be challenging, but there are also so many bonuses. You don’t have to ‘tip-toe’ around anyone, you don’t get eyed up the wrong way if you come into work late, and you know you’re in business with someone that truly has your back and isn’t going to falter.
I think working with your partner is the only way to go. Give it a try…if you’re game enough!