Being an entrepreneur is one of the most challenging things I've ever embarked on. The fear of failure, not only to myself but to our investors, weighs over me every moment of every day. Going through it with my husband is a whole other story.
Imagine yourself sitting on a conference table trying to get your point across to your boss without being a brat. Imagine that you both have a very different opinion on what should be a priority. Imagine your coworker being way more experienced and qualified than you are in certain subjects, but on others wishing he understood that even if you don't have an MBA and your field of work in the past has been completely different than the current one, in this particular subject you are right! Now imagine that on top of that you have to do your boss's laundry. Ugh! Right?
Building up a startup with my husband has been fun, exciting, frustrating and unnerving. At some point I gave up for a little bit and stopped voicing my opinion just for the sake of not arguing with him. And then there are times where I couldn't wish for a more supporting and encouraging boss.
I can safely say that we have mastered the art of being business partners, but it is not easy and it is never over. We had to learn how to approach business stuff without it getting on the way of our marriage. We are still learning to communicate not only as husband and wife, but as business partners as well.
You must always work on a marriage to keep it going, you must always support each other's growth with love and patience, and if you end up working with your husband or wife here are some guidelines that have helped us be better entrepreneurs and a loving couple. They can seem pretty basic and for that reason it's easy to forget them.
1. Listen to your business partner as if it were someone else. When discussing work related stuff imagine your husband/wife as someone you've never seen naked. This gives you a little bit of perspective and actually makes you listen to whatever he or she has to say instead of just waiting for your turn to reply.
2. Talk about business stuff only during business hours. Entrepreneurs don't really have time off so try to make some time to talk about banalities. Make date night about you and not about the startup.
3. When things get tough, be supportive and understanding. This means that when you differ from each other's opinion make sure you express it in a kind, constructive way.
4. Don't be dismissive. There's going to be stuff in which one of you has more expertise than the other. Learn to accept what are your strengths and weaknesses but always keep an open mind for what your partner has to offer.
5. Keep boundaries. Never bring work stuff into the marriage and marriage into work. When arguing about who's turn it is to make dinner, you can't claim you dealt with the annoying paperwork neither of you wanted to do.