I Went Into Business With My Husband and Quadrupled Our Revenue. Here Are 4 Lessons I Learned So You Don't Have To.


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From Beyonce and Jay Z to Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, there are dozens of high-profile entrepreneurs in pop culture, each successful in their own right, who partnered up in life, becoming famous power couples. But what if you and your significant other are early-stage entrepreneurs, like Nina and Tim Zagat, who started their entrepreneurial dreams together? Can you run a business together by day and be in a loving relationship by night?

I quit my job to work for myself full-time on August 1, 2013. Two weeks later, I met my future husband and business partner. After ten years of working together, launching and running two businesses, marrying and combining our families, we’ve learned through trial and error how to keep not only our businesses but our relationship thriving.

Do you and your significant other have power couple potential? These four lessons my partner and I learned over the past ten years can help you decide.

Power couple lesson #1: Evaluate compatibility and shared goals

Nowhere is the phrase “opposites attract” more relevant than in the power couple dynamic. While Aaron and I enjoy many of the same hobbies and interests, we are pretty different when it comes to work styles and habits. I’m a bit of a workaholic, working through lunches and late into the night. Aaron takes a walk every day at lunch and ends his work day at a normal hour, whether he’s having a slow day or is crazy busy. I enjoy managing finances — he doesn’t. We each have strengths and weaknesses that complement each other.

Aaron and I both worked in restaurants when we were young, so we understand the importance of customer service and have exceptionally high standards for our clients. Our values, work ethics, and long-term visions are well-aligned. We balance each other well, and that makes both of us more well-rounded professionals.

If you can effectively collaborate and resolve disagreement and effectively separate personal and professional matters, you have power couple potential.

Power couple lesson #2: Define roles and responsibilities

It’s important to draw lines around who owns what aspects of your organization, but you also should be willing and able to color outside the lines (a little). As a woman executive, I’m sensitive about taking on gender-specific roles in any business, much less an equal partnership. I’ve been in positions where I was asked to take notes as the only woman at the table.

In our businesses, I manage the financials; my husband manages the production. I am copy and strategy; he is design and ideas. He’s also anything offline, so he’s our guy whether we’re printing signage or building crates for in-store displays. I rely on Aaron for all creative for our agency and our clients, but I’m not void of creativity. In fact, I know great creative when I see it and not-so-great creative, too. I have ideas about design; I just can’t execute them, and I’m not always great at explaining my vision.

If you can clearly outline and communicate your specific job responsibilities and expectations and avoid biased roles, you have power couple potential.

Related: 8 Traits That Make a Successful Entrepreneur

Power couple lesson #3: Phone a friend

Every couple must navigate arguments, especially for those who work together. It’s not a question of if you disagree — but when. It’s imperative to have a system in place for getting through those challenges. One of the most crucial business lessons my partner and I learned is to bring in a third party for tie-breakers.

At one point, Aaron tried to convince me to add another segment of the business that would be ideal for scaling. I was 100% against it and didn’t think it would work. Instead of shutting him down (which I wanted to do), I agreed to “phone-a-friend” and sought a second opinion from my business coach. She agreed with him. That sealed the deal for me. It also increased our revenue by a wide margin. He was 100% right. (Yep, I said it.) A trusted source you can turn to for tie-breakers is a must in every power couple partnership.

If you can be open to ideas, or at the least, agree to bring in a trusted tie-breaker who can settle a debate, you have power couple potential.

Power couple lesson #4: There are no (hard and fast) rules

In our first year of business together, I wanted to talk constantly about work. It’s all I thought about. At work, after work, on weekends, and even on vacation. I drove my partner crazy, which wasn’t conducive to a healthy relationship or for our mental health. But that passion is also part of what makes me so good at what I do. It’s what has helped us increase our revenue four-fold over the past seven years. We’ve learned not to put rules or limits around what we talk about and when. Sometimes, we talk about work after hours or on weekends, and sometimes, we talk about personal things during the day. Nothing is off limits, and there is no set time for either. It’s what keeps us thinking creatively and being connected.

I’ve read articles advising that each partner needs to bring 100% every day. Let’s face it: we don’t always have 100% to give every day of the week. Brene Brown once said that successful relationships aren’t 100/100 or even 50/50. The percentage each person brings to the relationship will naturally change, depending on the day and what each has in their “tank” to give. And it’s our job to communicate that to each other. If I’m feeling burnt out, it’s my job to tell Aaron that I only have 30% that day; that way, he knows and is prepared to come with the other 70%. No different from our life at home. Our personal relationship is the most important to both of us, and if we had to choose, we’d drop the “power” from our couple title without hesitation.

If you believe rules are made to be broken and change as you evolve as individuals and as partners, you have power couple potential.

If you’ve been thinking about going into business with your partner, use these lessons we learned the hard way to start crafting your own power couple story today.



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