{ Marriage + Biz Partners: Making It Work }

What is it like to do daily life and run a company with your spouse? Hmm, well it basically involves tag-teaming 24/7. Operating a business full time as well as doing marriage and parenting together is an undertaking for sure– and not without its bumps in the road either. Believe me, we have our moments just like any couple (or biz partners for that matter!). We have found ourselves a rhythm though and really do enjoy doing everything side by side every single day. How do we actually make it work? Well, any truly successful partnership (business or otherwise) boils down to this: both parties are committed to being team players. That’s the only way it can work. 

Truly successful partnerships boil down to

Both parties committing to being team players.

Let me break down how that works…

#1- Mutual respect

This is a must-have in any partnership. Respect for another essentially means to hold a deep feeling of admiration for what the other person brings to the table. Denis and I each have very different personalities, skills, and priorities when it comes to accomplishing stuff. I’m the go-getter who likes results (preferably yesterday), where Denis is more thoughtful, patient and considered. I’m the creative who gets wrapped up in pursuing new and exciting endeavours, where he’s more constant and contented, continuing on with what’s working well and adding in doses of practicality. We are super different from each other, and those differences can make for great success in our partnership, or they could easily be the cause of total friction and unraveling. Making things work between two different people comes through affirming and appreciating each other’s unique strengths and abilities, and being able to recognize the differences as overall assets to the partnership.

#2- Distinctive roles

This goes right along with recognizing each other’s strengths and interests. Frankly, the larger a company (or family) grows, the more tasks there are to do, and so responsibilities need to be divided up to be able to meet the demands and accomplish everything successfully. In any operation, there are areas where one person will naturally shine more than the other and will find the work easier to do, so it’s important to take advantage of that. In our biz, I naturally love the creative, connective and organizational pieces– those play to my passions and strengths– so as far as tasks go, I take on all the social media, marketing, and administrative side of things. Denis on the other hand prefers more of the hands-on, scientific, and diligent outdoor work. He lives for being in the fields, as well as record keeping, studying stats, and finding new ways to be more efficient– and he’s super great at it! Dividing up tasks and developing roles sets a partnership up for greater success, rather than both people trying to do and be everything all the time.

3- Shared Values

My first two points focused on capitalizing upon your differences, but in the same breath it’s equally important to establish the place where you two meet! What values and goals do you share together? What are the most important things in this that you are both striving to achieve? For Denis and I, there are a couple of areas that we find we always come together on, beyond both wanting the business to do well and succeed. One is our mutual care for others. For us, people always matter above profit, and we want our lives and business to reflect that. Another core value we share is ‘family before farm’. We each work hard at the business and invest every bit we have into it to make it a success (and bring our kids into that as well), however, when it comes down to it, we choose to set aside work for family and to ultimately be there for each other and the kids. That means prioritizing time for family nights, date nights, and mealtimes together regardless of how much else there is still to do (there will always be more work to do than time to do it on the farm). It also means that if one of the members is going through a tough time or dealing with something big, we make sure to notice and really show up for them and take time to care, even when it means setting something else important aside for a bit. No matter how much we are invested in it, the business is not the be all and end all. Relationships and people take top priority for us.

And the end of the day for us, we believe in:

People over profit. Family before farm.

A key reason why establishing your shared values is important is not only because it shapes your business, but because it grounds you both anytime a big decision needs to be made or when friction arises between you (and friction will arise, that’s just part and parcel of any partnership). If you know and can keep returning to your shared common goals or passions, then that commonality will give you both a landing base for tackling your problems together rather than becoming pitted against one another. Common ground gives a partnership alignment, making for a ‘You & me vs. the issue’ rather than ‘You vs. Me’ standpoint during conflict.

#4- Good Communication

Keep eachother in the loop! As much as you each might be good to go forward on your own and don’t need feedback on every decision, it’s still important to keep your teammate updated on what’s going on and how things are operating. Check in with each other often. Make a point to routinely share the successes, the issues, and the status of things. This information helps keep you connected as partners and maintain cohesiveness within the operation. Communication is also important when you have a beef with the other party. Don’t let frustrations fester, get honest and open and address problems when they happen. Invite feedback from eachother, as well as offering it. Be willing to listen and receive, as well as deliver. Always remember that communication is a two-way street, so it’s important to ensure you’re both doing your part to keep it moving both ways!

In conclusion, every duo has their friction moments when it comes to walking out a partnership. Denis and I go through periods of stress, miscommunication and disagreements with each other (in marriage, parenting, and business). However, committing to being team players and practicing the steps above makes going strong still totally doable!