We’re off this weekend for a short business trip to Miami. It’s exciting times of growth and expansion for our company, Phox Charge. Jason and I have been working on it pretty much since we started dating. To get technical we weren’t even dating when we had our first few ‘business meetings.’ The past four years have provided me with some pretty unique opportunities to learn and develop many important skills needed to succeed in both business and life. It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, most of it hasn’t been easy. Almost none of it.
A lot of it fucking sucked.
That is the raw and honest truth.
I’d be doing anyone who reads this post or my blog a huge disservice by attempting to paint it as a rainbow-filled joy ride. Working with your significant other is just that: WORK.
Now am I saying it isn’t rewarding, near impossible and no one else should attempt it? No, I’m not saying that either, in fact, we’re proof it is entirely possible. (If you find the right person of course).
Starting a business with your boyfriend can be one of the biggest tests you could put your relationship through. Have we passed with flying colors? Only time will tell, but so far we’re making it work both personally and professionally. How? I’m going to share some of the most important things I’ve learned about starting a business with your boyfriend/husband/fiancé. Before I even begin on the essential skills needed to dive into business with your boo, it’s important to note that every working relationship also deserve these things. My philosophy is that a relationship is a relationship no matter personal, professional etc. But if you can work on and master these skills you’ll be much happier…I promise.
This has taken us years of practice. We’ve both had to conscious work on becoming more open communicators. You can’t be closed off or quiet because that only adds fuel to a fire. Becoming an effective communicator takes time, patience and practice, but it will pay off 10 fold if you can master proper communication in business.
This relates to proper communication. With my Adhd and anxiety, this has been one of the most difficult things for me to learn and put into practice. So many of our fights stemmed from my lack of focus during important conversations. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I simply wasn’t listening.
Oh compromise. The art of compromise is incredibly tricky. When do you hold your ground and stick to your guns? I think the most important thing to remember about compromise it is not intended to be an all or nothing game. Always look for a win-win. If there isn’t an entirely equal win-win, try to come to the most fair solution. 99.9% of the time there is one. The worst thing you can do is bully your partner or trick them into doing it your way. It will backfire. And remember, just because you think you’re right or you’re way is the only way…that probably isn’t true.
We made the mistake early on of listening too much to our advisors and investors bad advice. They pressured us into defining roles, setting to many boundaries and essentially pitted us against each other instead of inspiring us to work as a team. This caused resentment and bad attitudes. Both of which can cause less than pleasant interactions to occur. Respect must be mutual and consistent, always.
For a few years we only knew one speed and emotion. Fast and stressed. With time and experience we’ve learned that those two things only lead to tears, anger and burnout. We were so 100% consumed with Phox for a while that it took it’s toll. Our lives were completely out which did nothing for our relationship, livelihood or business. Take a step back, find a work/life balance that makes you happy and roll with it until it’s time to readjust.
6. Personal Space/Time
We are best friends and do essentially everything together. Since we’ve started dating and working together I can only thing of a handful of times we’ve spent more than a few days apart from each other. (I think 3 has been the longest) He has his golf days, I have my creative days with the girls. Our situation is also unique because for a long. This can be a touchy subject for some people, but by clearing starting your personal time/needs can be tremendously helpful in a working relationship.
Fucking expectations. They are the root of all disappointment. Want to be happier in your personal and professional relationships? Stop expecting things. I know I’m being blunt, but it’s the honest truth. I’m still working on it. Your life is not a movie and you can only write your half of the script.
Periodically J and I will sit down with a blank piece of paper and just start spitting out goals. By having these check-ins we’re able to make sure we’re both working towards the same things. Nothing worse than chasing your tail. We set a few attainable, measurable business goals and have our own personal goals as well as goals for our relationship. We also have an on-going personal bucket list that helps us keep our eyes on the bigger picture.
Being responsible is like the first box on the ‘I’m an adult’ checklist. Real life and business brings real responsibilities. Be willing to equally share responsibilities and also be able to take responsibility for when mistakes are made. A simple ‘I’m sorry’ (if it’s sincere) can go a long way.
10. Trust and Forgiveness
The backbone of any relationship. We’re working on this one. The sucky thing about trust is that it takes years to build but seconds to break. But to counter this, forgiveness can show the true strength of a person. NO one is perfect. Perfection is boring. Often the most amazing things come from moments of hardship and tests of strength.
So far we’re doing ok, we’ve had amazing moments of success, happiness and triumph in our work/personal relationship. We’re both committed to growing as people and helping each other become a better partner. At the end of the day, we simply do our best and take joy in the journey. If you are thinking about starting a business with your boyfriend /husband/ or fiancé I wish you all the luck!