BQ Family business Coaching

How can we make our

family-business work better?

The unique challenges of being in business with your spouse

As I’ve said elsewhere, many family businesses start with the profession of the business owner. The electrician starts an electrical contracting business and the accountant starts an accountancy practice. A little way into the life of the business, the founder of the business, along with the spouse of the founder starts to appreciate that it takes more than being a great accountant to build a great accountancy business or being a great electrician to build a great electrician’s business, and the business flounders.

The family business is born when the spouse decides that “enough is enough” and enters the business as well, not least, to sort out the chaos created by the founder, in order to protect the interests of the family. (Read about my husband and wife coaching here). Over time, such family business can grow to become multi generational organisations with brothers, kids, uncles and cousins involved in the business.

70% Of all businesses in Australia are family businesses and a large percentage of those can be classed as husband and wife family businesses. In my experience there is wonderful opportunity in being in business with your spouse. It holds the possibility of providing for your family very well and there is a great opportunity to grow as a couple. But waking up beside your business partner in bed every morning also comes with a bunch of unique challenges.

family business

What’s so especially challenging about family businesses?

  1. It’s especially difficult to ‘leave work at work’.
  2. Sometimes the spouse who joined as the admin and finance partner (the wife often) can feel like they’ve sacrificed their career for that of the operations partner.
  3. Sometimes the admin partner has joined out of necessity rather than from skill, training or experience in this field.

4. Relationship dynamics can get in the way of business partnership dynamics.

5. If the business fails it can wreck the marriage as well.

6. Uneven power dynamic can cause tensions in the office and at home.

7. Issues of hierarchy may creep into the relationship.

8. Hiring can be an obstacle for husband and wife teams.

9. Investing in a husband-wife business looks risky for outside investors

Do you experience some of those challenges in your family business as well? Most husband and wife partnerships do, but there is no reason why you can’t can’t learn to move past those challenges. In my experience, the key is clarity. Clarity about your respective roles, who does what and who is responsible for what, clarity about the Purpose of the business, clarity about direction and long term goals.

Five Steps

Such clarity has to be discovered and built. My Five Steps to Discovery Process is all about discovering and building on that clarity, check it out and take the first steps towards your own clarity. The Five Steps Process is mostly free and without any obligation, sales or nonsense, just clarity, insight and practical next steps. More here.

When you get it right, when you get a husband and wife family business really working, there is nothing more satisfying. The two of you will develop your relationship to an entirely different level, the business will thrive and your family life will start to feel like a true partnership… I promise you

Tools, surveys, further reading

This is a great blog about family enterprise

You may also want to have a look at the website of Family Business Australia. There are a bunch of great resources and information there as well. Follow this link

How do you compare against Bey and Jay?

family business husband and wife partners
Complete the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family business survey to find out how you compare against the most famous husband and wife family business partnership in the music biz. It’s fun and takes just a few minutes and if you and your spouse complete the survey it will lead to some powerful conversations that will open the door to new opportunities in how you work together.

More reading and resources for husband and wife family business owners:

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Family business: Husband and Wife as business partners

Family business husband and wife business partners

Family business husband and wife business partners

How do you ‘leave work at work’ when you sleep with your business partner?

Creating work-life-balance is the holy grail for all of us small business owners, but for husband and wife family business partners, being 100% ‘not-at-work’ can feel like an unattainable dream.

Husband and wife business partnerships can be really satisfying, they can be great vehicles for making money while allowing a couple to grow and develop together. But family businesses come with a unique set of challenges. (More about husband and wife family businesses here on Medium.com)

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Clients of mine, let’s call them Bill and Lauren, have built a construction company together that turns over about $10M per year. Bill completed a carpentry apprenticeship straight out of high school and went back to school in his late twenties to get a building diploma, before starting his building company and Lauren is a qualified accountant. Bill and Lauren got married 10 years ago and Lauren joined the business to take control of the finances, the admin and HR systems. Now, they’re both getting to their forties, they have two young children, a dog and a rabbit.

Bill and Lauren have an office away from home, but neither of them have been very successful at closing the office door behind them at the end of the day. Lauren generally goes home around 3.30 and organises things at home and Bill makes it home around 5.30 most days. The conversations around the dinner table are all about the various crises and challenges of the day at work and planning and worrying about the ones they see in the immediate future.

After dinner laptops

After dinner, both of them tend to sit on their laptops, to complete the stuff they’ve fallen behind on during the day. Bill to finish quotes and Lauren to manage the rosters and budgets.

In the morning, Bill has to be at the office or on site at 7.00 am every day (the building industry starts early), so he generally leaves home around 6 am and Lauren organises the kids before heading for the office around 8.00 am.

On the weekends, there are the usual commitments around the children’s activities and shopping, but most minutes that aren’t taken up by ferrying the kids from soccer to birthday parties or standing in line at the Woolworth’s checkout are occupied with work. Bill and Lauren’s conversations, their time and their brainspace is rarely completely free of some preoccupation with work.

Bill and Lauren never used to mind working hard and doing long hours, they’ve both always felt they’re building something valuable and important for their family, but over the past couple of years they’ve started to become worried that the best parts of family life are passing them by, that by the time they’ve finished building that valuable and important thing for their family, they will have missed out on what actually matters.

I often work with family business owners and this experience of not being able to ‘leave work at work’ is a never ending refrain.

Two sides to the coin

To be fair, there are two sides to this coin. Knowing that your husband or wife really gets what goes on for you in your role as a business owner can be a great feeling and help you deal with your challenges and stresses more effectively. Some of my other clients can only dream of really being able to share their work challenges with their partners regularly. The most often repeated complaint I hear from single business owners is that they feel alone and overwhelmed.

But that doesn’t make Bill and Lauren’s challenges any less important.

In the past Bill and Lauren have tried to set rules around bringing work home. But usually one or the other will have a crisis within a week of setting the rule, and before you know it it’s back to the old patterns again.

A new approach

We took a different tack 6 months ago. I’ve told them that it is unrealistic to imagine they’ll ever be able to close the door to the office behind them completely. What’s more, that’s not even desirable. It’s actually not so bad spending a bit of time after the kids have gone to bed catching up on some work, or preparing for the next day and it can be quite pleasant discussing the strategy for the week ahead with each other, on the couch on Sunday evening with a glass of wine in hand. This is the other side of the coin I mentioned above, it’s one of the things that can make family businesses special and effective, as much as they can be stress inducing. It’s all in the balance.

This is what we did 6 months ago and with few exceptions Bill and Lauren have been able to stick to the system.

  1. All Sunday until after dinner is a work free zone. Family breakfasts, outings, picnics, watching movies, playing games, walking the dog, catching up with family and friends. Sunday during the day is sacrosanct.
  2. On Sunday evening, the two of them plan their week from a work, family and personal perspective together. The only rule is that one of the evenings of the week is to be work free and just about the two of them. They can go out or stay in, but one evening per week is just for them, no kids no work no nothing else.
  3. Weekday dinners are family time, the 4 of them eat together at the dinner table, no TV and no work talk, until dinner is over and cleaned up

Permission to fail

The keys to the success of this system are its flexibility, the Sunday evening planning time, and the allowance in the system for failure. By acknowledging that in their life, every week is going to be different, by taking 15 minutes to plan each week, and finally by allowing that sometimes plans go awry and that when they do it’s not the end of the world, it just means you need to make a new plan again; Bill and Lauren’s life has transformed.

Being in business together is Fun again.

As I mentioned above I work with Husband a Wife business owners a lot, because I lived the husband and wife business partner experience myself. I have written about my own experience here. I only ever work with people I enjoy working with, but helping turn a family business around give me the greatest buzz of all. Have a look at my web page about Family business here and download the 10 point check list about marrying your business partner. If you are in a family business you might also want to have a look at Family Business Australia here. The website has some great resources for couples who are in business together. I have also created my own family business resources page here.

Please also feel free to check out some of my testimonials from husband and wife family business owners here. You may also find my article about laying the foundations of a great business interesting here

I also really like this infographic on the Business Families Foundation website here

AYF Family Business; When husband and wife partner up in small business

The highs, lows and pitfalls of

husband and wife business teams

Complete the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey and start a life changing conversation with your spouse now.

Husband and wife couples family business

What happens when business partners wake up in the same bed every day?

family business australia

I specialise in working with husband and wife family business partners to help them discover and build their own Beautiful Business and Life and then build it. Typically, businesses such as these are built on the profession of one of the couple. Husband and wife family businesses like these make up the majority of small business partnerships in Australia. 

“Roland helped us get clear on our roles and responsibilities in the business and find a realistic balance between work and home life again… Business is Fun again” Mark and Linda

Operations, marketing and admin

Often (but not always of course) it is the husband’s trade or profession that lies at the foundation of the business, and he runs the operations of the business (the work of the business), while the wife runs the marketing, finances, the HR issues, and the admin.

A husband and wife family business partnership such as this can be highly satisfactory and profitable and what’s more, it can allow the couple to grow and develop together. But there are also a bunch of unique challenges to developing a small family business and having it become a Beautiful Business that Stands the Test of Time. More about the unique mental health and personal wellbeing challenges of running a family business on this page.  If you’re ready start to discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life, click here now to book in a Discovery Session with me as part of my Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Complete the Bey and Jay Family Business Survey

Husband wife family business partners couples spouse Take the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey, to find out how you rate against the world’s most famous married business partners. Complete the questionnaire here. It will take you no more than a few minutes to complete and you will receive a 2 page report with your score, showing where you sit on the Bey and Jay Family Business Scale. Ideally you and your spouse should both complete the survey independently and then compare results.

(See also my page about the unique challenges in family business here)

We love being life- as well as business partners, we’ve learned to communicate at a completely different level with each other and we both love standing in the centre of our lives having this great sense of control.

Anh and James

Here is a cool info graphic about how to make a success of being in business with your spouse on the Business Families Foundation website

What you can expect when working with me:

This is how I’ll help you build a Beautiful Family Business that supports your family rather than fights with it:

  • Develop absolute clarity about your roles and responsibilities in the business, allowing both of you to relax knowing that the important stuff is handled every day and every week.
  • Implement better bookkeeping, workflow management and project management systems. Your fingers on the pulse of all the key indicators of the health of your business, as opposed to keeping your fingers crossed.
  • Develop absolute clarity abut the Purpose of your business; the reason your business exists and why anybody else would care about that. Know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
  • Build relationships with the right people. Referral marketing is the most powerful way to build your business.
  • Develop marketing strategies that mean you get to build your business with the right type of clients. Clients walk in the door, wanting to do business with you.
  • Develop and implement Quality Improvement systems that allow you let your staff get on with things confident the work will be consistent. Make your business run like a Swiss clock.
  • Develop and implement better hiring systems so you can be sure you get the right people on the bus
  • Create a balance between work and home that is practical and flexible; Learn how to ‘leave work at work’ when it needs to be left there.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

“One of the reasons we decided to go out on our own was to increase not just flexibility but we wanted freedom of choice … to be the masters of our destiny and that is definitely one of the benefits of running a husband and wife business.”

Kylie and Jake

Complete the Bey and Jay Family Business Survey

Don’t forget, take the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey, to find out how you rate against the world’s most famous married business partners. Complete the questionnaire here and you’ll receive a 2 page report usually in hours.. It will take you no more than a few minutes to complete. Ideally you and your spouse should both complete the survey independently and then compare results.

It’s fun thing to do and it will lead to some great conversations between the two of you… I promise you

Just Five Steps to Discovery

If you recognise some of the challenges of being in business with your spouse, above and you’d like to explore how I can help you overcome some of those everyday struggles and start to make the most of the exciting opportunities as a couple in business, click here to book in a free Discovery session as part of my Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Read here about Five Steps to Discovery Process, to help you discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life.

Further reading and resources

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.