Five Ways to Make a Spousal Business Venture Successful
Your spouse is the person you can’t live without- that’s why you married them. But could your romantic relationship advance to the next level; a professional relationship? Going into business with the love of your life is a big decision – almost as big as agreeing to marry them. Many couples have separate professional lives, but others enjoy the extra time with their special someone. Todd and Joanie Penhollow are a perfect example of a successful romantic and business relationship.
Todd Penhollow became the franchisee of Fibrenew’s Central Oregon location in 2014. Six years later, his wife, Joanie, joined him. The couple has been working side-by-side ever since and loving every minute of it. The business gave them the luxury of creating their own hours and schedule, which was just what they needed after the birth of their son. Since working together, they’ve recorded some of their most profitable months.
So, if you’re thinking about venturing into business with your spouse, here are the guidelines Todd and Joanie follow as business partners and life partners:
1. Set Boundaries. Easier said than done, but the importance of keeping work life and personal life separate can be the difference between succeeding and failing. Where to start? Set time limits. On the weekends, Todd and Joanie prefer to avoid business talk unless absolutely necessary. However, that’s not always possible. When an overflow of work needs to be taken care of on a Saturday or Sunday, the couple blocks out time to tackle the project together – discussing ahead of time how much time is needed to complete the task, and assigning a day and time to work on it. Agreeing to spend three hours working together on a Saturday morning is sometimes necessary, but once that task is completed- the Penhollows put business on the backburner to enjoy free time as a family.
2. You can never over-communicate. You’ve heard it before; communication is key. Well, it really is. Todd and Joanie’s marriage taught them the importance of communication, but working together has solidified how to properly communicate even more. Every relationship needs open and honest communication to thrive. You have to be comfortable enough with your partner to talk through the tough stuff. Things don’t always go to plan, and that’s the reality of running a business. Being able to talk through the challenges with your partner makes it that much easier to succeed. Another benefit of good communication is that it leads to understanding. The more you communicate, the better you understand your partner. You have to understand their points of frustration. If something isn’t working, recognize what the issue is and tackle it together. Talk it through and make the necessary changes. The old rule, ‘if you see something, say something’ applies to your relationship on a business level and romantic level. If something at work is affecting your lives at home, the issue should be addressed immediately. Remember what comes first, and always remember how lucky you are to be working with your best friend. You married that person for a reason. Find the reason you chose to go into business with them. Building a life together is much different than building a business together.
3. Be open and honest. With your spouse and with yourself. Are you the couple that can’t get enough of each other? If you enjoy being around your spouse 24/7, you could run a business side-by-side. If you need alone time every now and then, maybe you and your spouse’s responsibilities for the business will need to operate on separate ends. Recognize what needs to happen in order to achieve your version of success. Todd and Joanie were unaware of each other’s professional capabilities until they witnessed them firsthand after joining together in business. You learn a lot about your spouse throughout your marriage, and there is just as much to learn about your spouse throughout your business endeavors.
4. Capitalize on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You know each other’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your home life, which can also be applied to your business. Whoever enjoys balancing the family checkbook can maintain the business’s finances as well. Whichever individual typically keeps track of the family calendar and to-do list would be great at overseeing the business calendar and daily agenda. In a way, couples can take advantage of their spouse’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing each other’s skillsets is a huge benefit to going into business together. Whatever skills you lack, your partner can help out with- and vice versa. You know your partner better than anyone- take advantage of it!
5. Find a passion outside of business. While it’s important to be passionate about the business model, it is equally as important to have other passions outside of work. It’s not healthy to exhaust all of your energy to one element in your life. Todd and Joanie find passion in fitness and view it as another way to motivate and hold each other accountable. Your passion does not have to be mutual, and it is okay to have separate passions. Whether it’s a hobby, an activity or a way to unwind- finding a passion separate from your home and work life is essential in maintaining that healthy balance.
About the authors:
Todd and Joanie Penhollow are owners of Fibrenew Central Oregon. Before franchising with Fibrenew, Todd spent more than 20 years working in the water and wastewater utilities industry. Joanie had a 20-year-long career in sales managing a plumbing showroom before joining Todd at Fibrenew.