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6 ways to balance your personal and professional relationship.

spouse-business-ownersRunning a company side-by-side with your spouse can offer a number of advantages.You’re collaborating with someone you love and trust, sharing a sense of accomplishment when your business succeeds, and spending time together as you log long work hours. These benefits may be part of the reason why more than half (56 percent) of small business owners say they’d work with their spouse — and 14 percent already are — according to a BMO Harris survey.

But working and living together can also present some challenges. If you’ve been thinking about joining forces with your spouse, the following 6 steps can help you balance your personal and professional relationship: 

    1. Define your roles: SuccessThird Party Link magazine recommends formally drawing up specific job responsibilities and giving each person a title to outline what’s expected of them — which may be particularly important if you and your spouse are both used to being in charge. Clearly defined roles can, according to TimeThird Party Link, also keep any employees from trying to play one spouse off the other when making decisions. Keep in mind that roles often change as a business evolves, so you may want to make a plan to revisit and redefine them annually as your business grows.

 
Related: Do you have what it takes to be a small business owner?

    1. Take care of money matters: Worst-case scenario, if your business struggles or fails, both your incomes could be compromised. If you’re comfortable with the risk, be sure to set a realistic budget that accounts for both your salaries. For a conservative estimate, multiply your lowest-ever monthly income by 12, says the Freelancers
      Union
      Third Party Link.
       

Additionally, establish a six- to 12-month emergency fund you can look to when you have slower months. Lastly, factor in the costs of health insurance for you and your employees. The Small Business Administration’s health care guideThird Party Link has options for companies under 25 employees. 

  1. Offer constructive criticism carefully: If you see room for improvement in your spouse’s work, tread with caution. A critique that comes from a loved one, instead of an impartial boss, can be tougher to take, so try offering advice after a validation of belief in your spouse’s work and talent. Additionally, consider setting some ground rules for providing regular feedback, such as each committing to identify one thing you’ll work on improving each business quarter.
     
  2. Consider a third-party taskmaster: Splitting up administrative duties can be a necessary but sometimes difficult chore. Consider outsourcing these tasks to a full- or part-time office manager, if you can afford to hire one, or use a workflow management tech tool like NimbleThird Party Link ($15 a month), BasecampThird Party Link (prices start at $20 a month) or WrikeThird Party Link (free for up to five users), which lets users assign responsibilities to each other.
     
  3. Communication is crucial: Carrying arguments from your personal life into the workplace — and vice versa — can disrupt productivity and wreak havoc at home. Keep your personal life at home as much as possible, and sidestep the silent treatment and commit to open lines of communication. Helpguide.orgThird Party Link offers guidance on how to effectively communicate, covering topics such as nonverbal communication, engaged listening, managing stress in the moment, the ability to communicate assertively, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of your partner.
     
  4. Set boundaries: You may want to establish some ground rules to ensure work doesn’t take over your life (and your relationship). For example, you may want to eat lunch separately or skip a shared morning commute. Set limits on when you’ll talk about work outside of work — for example, try and skip shop-talk over dinner. This can be more difficult to do if you both work from home, so set some ground rules about where in the home is a “work” area and what’s personal space. You can also consider signing up for a free account on WorkfromThird Party Link to look for shared workspace locations in your area.
     

 
 

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