In my work with remodeling contractors I often work with couples. My wife, Nina, and I worked together for 29 years running our remodeling company. Here are some of the lessons we learned over time and that I share with the folks I consult with.
Your relationship is more important that your ability to work together
Often in the heat of the moment couples who work together forget this. They get bogged down in petty disagreements that occur largely because they forget why they decided to spend the rest of their lives together. Stop for a moment and get some perspective.
Boundaries are essential
Nina was responsible for finance, administration and marketing. I was responsible for sales and production. When someone from production went with a concern to Nina, Nina had to direct that person to our production manager who would talk with me if that was needed. Likewise, if I had a bright idea about how marketing could be tweaked I needed to get Nina’s buy-in or nothing would happen.
Only one of you is crazy enough to be an entrepreneur (fortunately)
Michael Gerber (author of The E-Myth books) writes about people being afflicted by an entrepreneurial seizure. When two people who live together decide to work together the one who is the crazy one often expects the other spouse to be as committed to the business as he or she is. That rarely occurs. I had to get over that and be ready to be grateful for what Nina was willing to contribute.
You are different than your spouse
Often the founding spouse is fast paced and doesn’t care for details. The supporting spouse is slower paced and wants to get everything perfect. That is actually a good combination for the long term but often creates a fair amount of stress in the relationship. Why? There is not the respect given to the other that is deserved, because it is so hard to understand the way he or she looks at the world. The stability of your personal relationship depends on struggling to understand and adapt.
Finally, it takes work to make it work so get over that or don’t try to work together. If it doesn’t work that is okay. But don’t try to make the impossible happen.
When it does work, that can be wonderful. But it is not for everyone. Keep your personal relationship in mind as the most important thing to both focus on.
—Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now works as a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. email@example.com; http://www.winansconsulting.com/