The idea of working with your partner tends to generate a lot of responses from people, mostly negative ones. A quick poll of some friends recently revealed that not one single couple would want to work with their partner. Not because they don’t love or value each other. In fact, the common response has been that it’s because they love and value each other, that they wouldn’t want to jeopardise that, by working together.
That’s understandable. Relationships are hard work enough. Why would you want to throw in the stress, work, effort and energy needed to run a business into the relationship mix?
Despite the many obvious potential issues, some couples nevertheless choose to work together. Whether it’s through a common interest (say two graphic designers merging their talents to form a joint company), or the fulfilment of a long-held lifelong dream (like opening up a countryside b&b), there are a number of ways couples can arrive at this point.
For my partner and I, it was a case of opposites attracting. Opposites in terms of our skill sets, that is. He’s a madly gifted software developer. I come from a comms/marketing background. Our skills might look like opposites on paper, but in real-life, they’ve proven to be quite complementary. Over the course of a few years, our work areas have become more defined, and allow each of us to focus on and excel in our respective areas of expertise.
An added bonus of having separate areas of work scope is that it allows us to retain ownership, as well as our individuality, over the various different aspects of the business. I can do my thing in my areas, he can do his in his areas. If we were both developers for instance, I don’t think it would have worked. We would have been tripping over each other and suffocating each other’s sense of creativity.
Another reason we can make it work for us is that we’re in total agreement on some really important fundamental stuff. Namely, why we wanted to work together in the first place. As our 20s gave way to our 30s, we both felt like city life wasn’t what we wanted any more. I’m so glad that I got to live an urban life in my 20s. I really loved it and enjoyed every aspect of it. The proximity to people, places and amazing times is something I look back on now and it makes me smile. I truly had a great time.
But I also knew I wanted something else. Luckily, so did my partner. Our working together was therefore based on a desire to create a tree-scape opportunity for ourselves. Over 3 years into having “left the city behind”, I/we couldn’t be happier. While not every aspect of our lives is perfect (is there really even such a thing?), I know for myself that I wouldn’t ever want to go back to living inner-city life. I love being able to duck in and experience it every now and then, but I’m equally glad and relieved to be home. Space, peace and quiet is the rule, not the exception – and I couldn’t imagine my life without these things.
So despite the many challenges that working with your partner brings, making sure you understand the potential pitfalls, and focusing on why you’re choosing to go down this path together, does make a world of difference.