There are many husband-wife teams all around the world – a study showed there are more than 1.2 million husband-wife teams in the US alone. However, research also shows that it is hard for husband-wife teams to work together and stay married.
When I founded Anagram Group with my husband, many of our friends and relatives admired that we set up the business together when we were newly-weds, but many also warned us about the dangers of running a business with your spouse.
Both camps were right – the journey has been challenging, exciting and rewarding, all at the same time.
Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
1. Your success depends on each other
Having had our own career success before we went into business, our biggest challenge has been dealing with each other’s egos. We both have led and managed teams in the past, and when we went into business, the question we constantly grappled with is, ‘Who’sthe boss?’
A simple solution we’ve implemented is delegating.
His background was in investment banking, so he’s in charge of anything to do with finance, training, and regulation. My background is journalism, and marketing, so I am in charge of anything that has to do with marketing, client relations and sales.
At the same time, we’ve leveraged our strengths to make each other better. From working together I’ve learned to be better at finances, and he has learned about writing articles, social media, and promotion.
The result is that we have both acquired new sets of skills from each other’s expertise, which helps us become better at what we do.
2. Befriend similar couples
By far, the biggest encouragement has been actively making friends with similar entrepreneur couples.
Meeting with them, having dinner with them, networking with them, we can share our professional and personal triumphs and challenges.
Knowing of couples with different business models, and different ways of delegation helps us expand our horizons.
3. My Space and Your Space
Having a training business means that we can work from anywhere in the world with just a laptop and an internet connection. This has led to some dilemmas regarding where we can best work.
We both have strong preferences for ideal workspaces – for example, he likes co-working spaces and ambient noise, while I prefer solitude and listening to music while working. We can almost never agree on where to work, so he gets his way, and I get mine.
We agree to work in whichever spaces we prefer best, even if that means separate spaces. The result? Absence really makes the heart grow fonder.
4. Set a ‘blackout time’ for work
When you spend 24/7 with your colleague and spouse, it’s easy to forget that you’re married.
Work discussions sometimes pop up during Date Night, and our holidays are sometimes interrupted by work tasks and client pitches.
In this digital age, one can never truly switch off from work, so we set ‘blackout times’ now where we try, as much as possible, to not check emails after a certain time of the day unless we absolutely have to.
5. Don’t forget Date Night
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are that we have a rare opportunity to work anytime and anywhere and with whoever we want (each other).
When dealing with the stress of building a business, it’s easy to miss out on social engagements, or on Date Night.
We now actively try to do something romantic, or interesting every week. I call it “DIY Couples Therapy” — afterall who else can bring you closer together, but each other.
Sharing positive and fun experiences helps remind us that what we share is first and foremost, a marriage — before a business.
Another LadyBoss Lydia Neo started her business together with boyfriend now husband as well, read about How a Fresh Graduate Co-Founded a Powerhouse Creative Agency
Liyana Stuart is the Founder and Marketing Director of Anagram Group. Anagram Group is based in Singapore and delivers training in English and Mandarin across Asia. Anagram works with multi-national companies and high-performing start-ups in Asia, delivering leadership and management training, personality profiling and executive coaching.