By: Jamie Caroccio
First, the numbers.
An estimated 3 million of the 22 million U.S. small businesses in 2000 were couple-owned. More couples are going into business together than ever before.
It’s not just power couples with big bank accounts. I’m witnessing the rising trend in my own under-30 friend group. Close friends, power couples, two people who are crazy about each other who share passions and life goals come up with an innovative idea and BAM! Before they can even think of making human babies, they’re coparenting a business baby.
But the #marriedpreneur lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Below I share 7 Fundamental Laws to Live By to Have a Successful Business AND a Happy Marriage. Discover if it’s for you, how to make it work, and how to recognize if the time comes to call it quits.
7 Fundamental Laws to Live By and How to Have a Successful Business AND a Happy Marriage
DISCLAIMER: If you and your partner already have near break up fights over cooperating on small projects, like divvying up household chores or deciding where you’ll spend your 2-week vacation, entering a serious business venture may not be the best idea. Which leads us to Fundamental Law to Live By numero uno…
1. Know yourself.
Before we got married, my then fiancé and now hubby, Jorge and I decided to put our relationship through the ultimate test: cohabitation. Living together, we quickly discovered we were compatible partners – in life and shortly after, in business.
We began our professional collaboration with freelance projects. He developed and designed websites, I wrote the copy for them.
It was my senior year of college. I had returned home from studying abroad in Madrid with a Spaniard on my arm. Taking a full course load, working two jobs and planning a spontaneous wedding with one month’s notice, I quickly learned we were an excellent match. Working so well together in the physical and digital realms made the transition from couple to couple and business partners a natural one for us.
2. Divide and conquer.
Figure out each other’s strong suites.
Jorge and I compliment each other nicely. We always have. He loves to cook, I can’t even stir the sauce because of a fear of the volcanic-like juices popping up and burning me. Jorge despises washing, hanging and folding laundry, while I don’t mind the methodic process. He cleans the bathroom, I clean the kitchen.
He’s the night owl, the crazy coder working his magic behind the scenes. I’m more of the face and voice of the company, crafting our content, networking, and selling. He does the tech, I translate it into human speak for our clients.
We’re two key forces that drive our business. We have a small team but we are the engine and software that keep the gears turning and our virtual business doors open.
We acknowledge what we’re each good at and delegate accordingly.
3. Do “you” – create a space and routine that works for you.
Write. Meditate. Do yoga. Take a break to go out to the yard and shoot a few hoops.
Pick a few hours during the day to do something exclusively for you. Jorge has his uninterrupted time to code the latest app he’s working on for fun from 12-3am (I’m in bed). I’m a morning person, albeit trying to be, and can be found filling the quiet hours of 8-11am with the sound of my fingers furiously clicking away on the keyboard.
4. Create an agreement.
Don’t avoid the hard questions and conversations.
What happens if you and your partner disagree on an important business decision? What happens if one of you wants out of the business, or marriage, one day?
The hubby and I are two equal members in our LLC partnership. When you create your business entity, invest in an operating agreement to detail the worst case scenario. In our agreement, if we find ourselves unable to agree on an important issue, we have a clause that reflects a coin flip. This is a real, legally-binding part of our agreement that our lawyer informed us exists. We have a special clause that states tech-based decisions are his realm and big decisions regarding marketing and content default to me.
5. Separate work from play.
Don’t let business override your relationship.
Schedule date nights and make these nights SACRED. Don’t let client calls, drafting proposals, project work, laundry or family and friends keep you from going out. It’s easy get caught up in work, end up staying in, ordering a pizza and scarfing it down in front of your respective computer screens without so much as a “hey love, how was your day?” That doesn’t count as quality time.
You work hard all week to keep the business running. Your relationship requires that same dedication.
Schedule a date night at your favorite Thai restaurant. Add it to your Google calendar and treat it like a super important client meeting that cannot be rescheduled or interrupted.
Your relationship will thank you.
6. Above all else, never lose respect.
One afternoon in Madrid, just before moving back to NYC to start our business adventures, Jorge and I grabbed afternoon drinks with his mother, Elena. She wisely advised, nunca os faltéis al respeto. Never lack respect for one another. Even if the love fades, if there is respect, you will be okay.
Respect each other, and yourself, enough to recognize when the relationship, marriage or business, isn’t working anymore. It’s ok to say, I’m sorry I don’t love you anymore. To the business or your husband.
When a life-business partnership works, it’s a beautiful thing. When it doesn’t, it’s ok to call it quits, exit safely and move on to the next adventure.
A final note…
There’s one fundamental question I ask myself before collaborating with a client, partner, associate or friend.
Would I grab a beer with them?
If the answer is no, then I most likely wouldn’t enjoy working with them.
Jorge isn’t just my husband. He is my boyfriend, lover, business partner, advisor, mentor, language teacher and student, travel buddy and best friend.
If there’s something I couldn’t accomplish with him, I couldn’t imagine accomplishing it with anyone else.
Originally from Queens, New York, Jamie Caroccio is a poet, sheep-lover, world traveler and business owner. She studied Creative Writing and Spanish at St. Lawrence University where she participated in the study abroad program in Madrid, Spain for a year. While studying abroad, she met the Madrid-born man that is now her husband. After moving back to Madrid for a year to teach English, she returned to NYC to co-found a bilingual digital agency, HiSpire with her husband. When she’s not working on building her business and writing content, she can be found traveling, drinking wine and writing poetry.