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What My Wife and I Lost and Gained Running a Business Together

on January 7, 2016

My business, Spark Media Solutions, will celebrate its ninth anniversary this Sunday. During the first few years, I ran the business by myself. By the four-year mark, the business started growing dramatically, and I knew the company could no longer be a one-man band.

During that same time period, my family was also growing. My wife Joy and I got married, and welcomed our first son into the world.

After her maternity leave, my wife returned to her job as an online marketing manager at a non-profit, only to discover that they had cut her time and pay down to 60 percent.

I was surprised her employer was treating her so badly because I knew how talented she was. Her talents, which complimented mine, would be extremely valuable for my business. I asked her to quit her job and join Spark Media Solutions, but she balked, concerned about the common fear that many couples have about going into business together: How would this affect our marriage?

Before we had any more discussions about what the new work arrangement would entail, we came to an understanding. We agreed that if working together didn’t pan out, she would just quit and find a new job elsewhere, and that would be the end of it. The marriage was far more important than the business.

Here’s what we’ve lost and gained now that my wife are in business together

LOST

Different office experiences: We can’t have the “what happened at the office” conversation. Depending on how boring the office talk is, that could be a win.

Vent to each other about the office: Complaining about your boss or coworkers is also no longer a possibility.

Benefits: We pay for everything, including health insurance, out of pocket.

A consistent paycheck: There’s nothing consistent about our income. A line chart of our household income stream looks like an EKG chart.

Office socializing: We can satisfy this need today virtually, although it’s not as good as face-to-face socializing. For some of my past jobs my coworkers were a bore so this could actually be seen as a net positive.

9-5 workday: We’re definitely working far more than 40 hours. But then again, I don’t know anyone who has a fulltime office job that is confined to a 9-5 workday.

Weekends (sometimes): There are times one of us has to work on the weekend, and that stifles family time.

GAINED

Avoid internal political nonsense: Big companies are very effective in making you believe that your professional life exists within the four walls of the organization. Once you leave you realize there’s a lot more to the world than the nastiness that exists within the four walls of an organization. Both my wife and I were subject to these behaviors and we’re happy to no longer be a part of it.

Never have to suck up for advancement: No longer begging for a $2K bump in yearly pay. Nor do we have to pretend we’re so thankful when we get it.

Endless financial potential: Run your own business and those salary bumps are dependent on your ability to hustle more business. Play it well and you’ll get a lot more than a $2K bump.

Greater career advancement: We simply get more done in a year than we did at any full time job. I attest that to the fact that we don’t deal with any political nonsense which only drains you and doesn’t add to any productivity.

No longer work with people we can’t stand: Nobody needs this, but it’s an unfortunate reality and an emotional drain which can often occupy all your thoughts, often making you completely miserable.

Don’t have to clear anything to leave the office: We both take Friday mornings off to volunteer at my son’s school. If one of us has to leave to do something, we just let the other one know, and we go.

Set our own hours: Between our professional obligations and family responsibilities, we have a ton of work to do. Managing our time the way we want has made tackling the workload easier.

Piggyback vacations on top of professional trips: We haven’t done this a lot, but we have had a few opportunities to tie a business trips to family vacations.

We get more time together: We get to have lunch together most days. Since our kids are in school we occasionally take advantage of that time to see a movie in the middle of the day.

CONCLUSION: Work with your spouse?

If any of you work with your spouse or even started a business with your spouse, I’m interested to know if you feel the positives outweigh the negatives. And are there any I missed on either side that you’ve experienced?

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynette YoungNo Gravatar January 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

This almost exactly mirrors what my husband and I have experienced. We’ve owned several businesses (some were consulting, some were agencies and ONE was a retail store – THAT was the most stressful) and we haven’t had much luck working together until the last year. It took a bit to figure out to respect what each of us was strongest at and not wanting to run the entire show ourselves. Cheers to you and Joy at not just making it work but making it THRIVE!!

David SparkNo Gravatar January 7, 2016 at 1:15 pm

I’ll be honest I’m always scared that things will go south with the business. And I would say every year there’s something that shakes it up. I’ve received my shakeup this year already so we’ll see how it goes.

Jim SchuylerNo Gravatar January 7, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Another way to do it is for you and your spouse to operate two different businesses from home. We’ve done that here for over 20 years and it has many of the same benefits you cite. This way the EKG spikes are a little less linked together. -Sky

David SparkNo Gravatar January 7, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Love that. :)

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