My business law professor had a mantra: "Don't ever work with your family. You'll pay bigtime." We read case after case with the same fact pattern -- family members at each other's throats, battling each other to the death over financial disagreements (with a lot of I-can't-believe-he-did-that finger-pointing, and heck of a lot of irreconcilable differences, to boot.) And yet, we couldn't help ourselves. He took one look at his outsized workload, pointed his gaze in my direction, raised his brows and asked, "Do you…?"
That was 11 years ago, and since then, my husband Adam Salzman and I have worked together. Boy have we learned a thing or two. Two entrepreneurs in one household can really kill that bird. We've come up with 5 tips for working with your partner:
1. Know when to quit for the day. At a certain point, all simmering professional crises, real or imagined, must be put away for the evening. When it's 10 p.m. and you are forced to choose between finalizing a project or watching The Colbert Report, choose the latter. It's way funnier.
2. Do not share a desk. Maintain separate workspaces. You might use Post-Its, he might use legal pads. You listen to podcasts, he bumps Lupe Fiasco. You may share goals and a work ethic, but allow yourself the luxury of a separate space.
3. Share your database(s) in the cloud. Having access to the same set of records at all times helps reduce unnecessary legwork. We're big fans of the ubiquitous Google Docs… and everything Google has to offer, really, in this respect.
4. Designate one person as the customer-service contact. Customers need predictability -- you and your partner need to know who is in charge of tracking customer satisfaction. If you're both great at it, swell! Then have a system down pat so that you know who is getting back to whom and there's no cross-over to make your business look bad.
5. If you have children: don't hire them. Keep work issues away from family time. Unless your kids are mini-Warren Buffets -- and maybe even then -- let them be kids.
We may be the couple anomaly out there, but we happen to know a number of couple-preneurs who are building their businesses together quite successfully. You can, too.
Jill Salzman is currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, The Founding Moms, the world’s first and only kid-friendly collective of monthly meetups for mom entrepreneurs. Having built two successful companies, she launched The Founding Moms to connect mom entrepreneurs around the globe with one another.In her spare time, Jill enjoys kloofing, traveling to small towns, and erasing her daughters’ crayon artwork from the kitchen walls.