Starting and building a successful business can be challenging for anyone. For married couples, the challenges are compounded exponentially! Nevertheless, married couples living out the journey of entrepreneurship together can experience success in business and life that outweighs all the challenges and makes building a business together that much sweeter.
We’ve been business partners since the beginning of our marriage going on 20 years now. Our business ventures started in real estate as real estate investors, then transcended into providing professional real estate services together as Realtors. We also starting a consulting company in the midst of running and building our real estate practice. We both have an entrepreneurial spirit and are passionate about building businesses that add value to the communities and people that we serve. Yet we had to learn how to work together effectively despite our differences in personality, skills, experiences, preferences, habits, strengths, and weaknesses. So how can married couples succeed as business partners? We will share our experiences and lessons we are learning in our journey.
First, we are learning to have a shared vision for our business and marriage life. Couples in business together may have the tendency to compartmentalize their business and marriage, as if they do not co-exist. What we discovered is that they actually don’t just co-exist, but just as we are one in marriage; we are one in marriage and business. There is no separation. Our marriage must continue to grow stronger for us to maintain harmony as successful business partners. In fact, we are always married and will always be married – whether we have a business or not. So, that – the marriage – must come first.
Secondly, because marriage is paramount to the business, God must be the center of it all. We are learning that we must ensure that our marriage and business are functioning within God’s Word; and His will and covering as the foundation. Our business is first a Christian business and there are decisions we must make. So we must make sure all decisions are in alignment with God’s principles. Just as God is the center of our marriage, he is the center of our business and we go to Him for direction in all business matters, decisions, and quests.
Next, we are learning to just be transparent with each other’s strengths, weaknesses, skills, preferences, personality, preferences, and habits. We must be honest with each other about our professional attributes just as we do in other aspects of our marriage. Transparency one way requires an open mind the other way. What is meant by that is that if we can give honest feedback about our spouse’s professional shortcomings, we need to be able to receive his/her feedback regarding our own shortcomings. Marriage is for mature people. Well so is business in partnership as spouses.
Lastly, we must remember we are running a business as a married couple. We must constantly define professional roles and responsibilities and update and make changes as needed. We have regularly scheduled business and financial planning meetings together. Also we are finding we must always be prepared to have impromptu planning and decision meetings to discuss business opportunities and challenges that must be immediately addressed. We must be prepared to work through all challenges – good and bad – together. Each year, we write a business plan together that encompasses all aspects of our marriage and lives together. We are at an advantage when our lives are totally going in the same direction as a married couple. Our business provides us that opportunity!
We must enjoy each and every moment. We are very blessed to be able to dream, plan and work passionately together to build a successful business, life and legacy for our family that will ultimately bless the Kingdom of God.
BY MICHAEL AND TARA HOUSTON