We embarked upon our entrepreneurial journey as co-founders first and spouses later. And it is exactly for this reason that our work always gets priority, before our personal lives, and consequently, we believe we have demonstrated how spouses can work side by side brilliantly if they have their priorities set and clear mutual understanding.
In fact, working together has helped us weave our work and personal lives beautifully, allowing us time with each other in spite of our extremely hectic lifestyles and yet finding our own space both at work and at home.
While it may look glamorous from the outside, both of us have had to navigate several roadblocks to ensure that our professional and personal lives do not go awry.
The following tenets have played a key role in helping us power through our shared venture:
Establishing Operating Norms
While you both have the company’s best interests at heart, it is critical to establish a chain of command and clear areas of ownership so as to avoid any ego clashes along the way. It is important to talk about how you are planning to honor the other person’s authority and clear up assumptions.
It is also necessary to clarify the decision-making process that will be followed. This will go a long way in ensuring conflicts are minimized and productivity is optimised.
Delineating roles and delegating responsibilities based on your individual experience, capabilities and interests may ensure that you are supplementing each other’s skills and bridging any potential gaps. A spouse who is socially gifted and good at networking can complement a partner who might have good technical skills but is not socially savvy.
Use your strengths to demarcate your work responsibilities as well. It is best to keep non-overlapping roles so that each can be held accountable for their work. This will also send a message that it is meritocracy that matters in the organization and not personal relationships.
Respect And Support
If there is one thing a startup can guarantee, it is ups and downs of day-to-day business activities and the resultant churn of emotions attached to them. In such a situation, finding strength in one another is the only way to retain your sanity and for that, it is essential to respect and support each other at all times.
Recognize the contributions made by the other person, the sacrifices made and also the stress he/she may be under. A founder’s role is a very lonely one if you don’t have a friend in your co-founder.
Having Separate Workspaces
It is difficult to be not in your face all the time when you work and live together. Hence it might be a good idea to have separate workspaces at the office instead of a shared room. Also, small things like lunch with your respective teams instead of one another go a long way in establishing your professional persona as an individual rather than as a couple.
Time spent independently of each other, socializing or following your hobbies, may help create your own space within the shared life.
Celebrating small wins and keeping aside some vacation time to spend time with each other ensures that while you are proud to be colleagues at work, you also feel a sense of achievement as partners. It is not a small commitment to make when both partners decide to place all their bets on one venture – hence every small success count.
You have made it happen together – that sentiment is very empowering and reassuring and must be cherished at every opportunity available.
All in all, if you have very high professional ethics and love supporting each other, working together can be immensely successful with high career growth and learnings for both. However, if you cannot delineate your responsibilities and areas of influence and the roles are severely overlapping, it may become more of an ego-tussle, which will spill over into your personal lives.
We have been able to achieve this harmonious balance by keeping the aforementioned principles in mind, and we hope we can inspire more partners on their professional journey together.