Days before our 20th wedding anniversary, I can’t help but reflect on the success of our partnership, both in small business and in love. I can’t count the number of times people have asked us, ‘how on earth do you work together?’ Most people claim they would kill their partner and despite that, and that I nearly have, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tips for running a business with your partner
There’s nothing like running a business together to see if your relationship is going to be a long one. Fleur and Brad have run Leaf Bean Machine together for 10 years. They have faced many challenges down the road, but they still say with certainty that they wouldn’t have it any other way. They share with us their tips on how to run a business with your partner the (sorta) easy way.
Learn how to take a deep breath
The juggle of full-time work, being a mum and managing a household is challenging. As specialty coffee roasters, we are always caffeinated, so sometimes it isn’t Brad that is making my heart race. Travelling around Australia in a caravan taught us both to stop and smell the roses, sometimes literally, but mostly as a way of reflecting that life is often not as bad as it seems. Small business can be brutal and so we take a lot of deep breaths and soldier on. There is nothing quite like a business loan to motivate you out of bed in the morning!
Communication is key
Brad and I both have the gift of the gab and are strong communicators – we love talking! But it is not enough just to talk: you must also listen and be mindful of the other person’s point of view. We argue. We have great arguments…. But thanks to Brad, we never go to bed on an argument: we resolve it and move on. We never argue at work in front of our team.
Laugh and do it often
Nothing helps stress or the knots in your shoulders like a good laugh. I married a clown nicknamed Bozo. Bozo has an incredible way of making people laugh or making a situation less stressful. Our team respectfully jokes around at work, but when there is work to be done, we are all head down, bum up.
We wholesale coffee for cafes and restaurants and because Brad roasts our coffee, having time out takes a lot of effort. However much effort it takes, over the years of business, we have become much better at booking time out. Do it at the beginning of the year before your staff book their holidays. I love my husband, but I love having getaways without him and whether it is a movie with a girlfriend or a girl’s weekend, it is a vital tip to surviving running a small business with your partner.
Don’t talk about work at home
Before our son was born, we talked about work when we wanted, which in hindsight was not healthy. We agreed early in his life to try to not talk about work at home because dinner time was becoming a ‘meeting of the directors’ and not what we wanted for our family. It gives us a break and provides us with more balance. We sometimes fail at this and balance is an ongoing problem, but I think it is an ongoing problem for most couples.
Be open to a business coach
Having a business coach is like having a sounding board or a mediator when you don’t see eye to eye about business decisions. They are also one of the few people that will tell you that you are doing a great job with your small business.
Have defined roles
This is possibly the most important survival tip as there cannot be two bosses – someone makes the final decision. We operate with an organisation board, which clearly defines what each person in our team does. No matter how big or small your business is, implement this and it will be like a breath of fresh air.
Respect each other
We think this is a given. Admire what each other does and respect what each other says. Show patience and compromise. Brad tells a fishing story that I have heard 100 times, but a wise counsellor told me to focus on how it is being told, as this will be different every time. Respect.
Celebrate the good times
Sometimes in small businesses, we get bogged down in the hard times. Our business is an extension of ourselves. It is personal and we take it personally. Stop and celebrate the good times – the new customer, the target you reached, that you survived a busy week. Pat yourselves on the back. Reward yourself. You deserve it.