When you create a business with your spouse, you have amazing possibilities for an exciting and fun adventure like no other kind of business partnership. Understandably, operating a business with your life partner is not for every couple. It requires the ability to effectively merge your business and personal lives, skilfully sharing power and responsibility, so that you have fun working together and enjoy being and living with each other every day, without having to compromise.

First and foremost, you must enjoy each other’s company and genuinely like being around each other. By no means is it easy. But if you do decide to do it, make sure you really like being with each other and you have a good relationship in the first place. Business partners in a personal relationship have to spend more time together than most couples.

Being in business together can either make or break a relationship, since the boundaries between work and life can blur, which can lead to additional pressure being put on your personal relationship. If you are considering running a business with your spouse, consider all the things you and your partner could be and do different that would allow you to operate the business together with total ease and joy.

The following tips may help set you up for success, both at home and at work.

Generate a shared-vision for your life and business partnership

Nothing derails a business like having business partners working in conflict with each other. One of the enormous advantages associated with being in business with your spouse is the support that you’re able to give each other. To thrive and flourish while working closely with your spouse, you must create a shared vision and formulate a generative strategy for your business and your life. A shared vision and a generative strategy will allow you to live and work together in an effective way that minimises conflict.

Agree on what both of you want to create as your reality

Consider what you want to create as your life and living, and tailor the business to fit your lifestyle. Put the priority on your marriage and relationship first and always make sure to spend quality time together once the business time is over. What will begin to generate the expansion of your success starts with both of you!

It is how you think about yourself, your partner, your circumstances, and all the possibilities that lie ahead. If you don’t believe that you can have a thriving business together then you won’t create it. There is no way possible for you to have success if you don’t believe that it is truly possible for you to have that. If you have a strong relationship, complementary skills and shared vision, creating a business together can be a very rewarding experience. Focus your energy on what’s really important. Each morning ask each other, “Where can we put our energy today? What’s the one thing we need to do today that will create the most value?” Then ask yourself, “What is the one thing that only I can do?”

Develop your strategy

Creating a thriving business involves knowing what you want from your business. What is really essential are your targets, both financial and non-financial, that you need the business to generate in order to have the kind of life you want to lead. To know what you want to create, you first need to take a step back and start asking – “What is it I really would like to create here? What is it I can create? What choices do I have?”

You can start your business strategy by outlining the key priorities of your business into the future. The first thing you do is have a clear knowledge of what you have to offer. Your strategy must provide the details of your business, including the services you offer, what you want to achieve, what does your business stand for, how you’ll differ from the competition, financial projections, marketing strategies, what specific objectives do you want to achieve – both short and long term.

Take stock of your current financial state

If you would like your business to be a principal source of income for you and your partner, then you must know how much money your business needs to generate so you can live the life you desire. There is no more essential precept for creating a thriving business than to start by taking stock of your finances. Be aware of everything that occurs in your life in the financial arena, as this information will provide you with awareness of what might need to change.

Continuously convey appreciation and gratitude

Be continually appreciative and grateful for your spouse’s gifts, skills, capacities and insights. Express the respect by acknowledging each other for a job well done and by not judging. Don’t take your partner for granted. In co-creation of a successful business there must be a sense that you create and generate your business together and each person is a contribution to the other.

Develop clear roles and responsibilities

It is essential to set clear positions about who will take on which tasks for the business. Nothing will diminish joy and enthusiasm faster than feeling your partner is not pulling his/her weight. Don’t interfere with your spouse’s responsibility. Refrain from telling your spouse how to do the job. Avoid second-guessing and micromanaging. Just focus on your own activities and accountabilities. Personal and business respect go hand-in-hand for a business and life partnership. You will likely lose respect for each other if you are consistently judging or take a fixed point of view about anything your partner does or doesn’t do or how your partner is or is not. This is the key to being able to be with one another 24 hours a day.

Communicate effectively

Communication with one another is the key to being able to be with one another 24 hours a day. Keep communication open. To have a strong business and personal relationship, both you and your partner must be willing to fine-tune and develop communication skills and learn to swiftly handle disagreements and conflict with care and awareness. You must be willing to talk to each other about things that are unpleasant. The key is to never confront with hostility and never try to make the other person wrong.

Be willing to make tough decisions together

To be successful at making tough decisions, both partners need to let go of conclusion and avoid the need to control outcomes. When you and your partner are able to let go of the need to control and are willing to be flexible with no fixed point of view, you will make decisions with a much greater level of efficiency. Try to minimise emotion when talking about important, big decisions. Avoid Arguments with One Simple Act: Listen with No Point of View.

Chutisa Bowman is a global business advisor, author and speaker who has spent the past 30+ years working with many top society changing companies and entrepreneurs of our time. She is recognized worldwide as a Pragmatic Futurist and thought leader on strategic awareness; conscious leadership; prosperity consciousness and business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty. She is a Right Riches for You facilitator. Right Riches for You is a speciality program of Access Consciousness.

The extraordinary growth of the Chinese economy since 1980 has revolutionised what we had previously understood about industrialisation and economic growth. This has not been by chance, and I am not alone in thinking that their culture and the influence of Confucianism has played a large role in their story.

Having recently submitted a research paper on the Chinese economy, I have had the pleasure of investigating and reading extensively about the characteristics of Chinese culture and its current effects on global business culture. As Confucius said;

“If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.” Confucius

Bearing these wise words in mind, I have drawn up what I believe are 5 characteristics of Chinese business ideology that I feel would be useful for imitation:

1. The way they perceive a ‘crisis’

Crisis in the Chinese language (pictured) literally translates to a combination of Danger and Opportunity. Every ‘crisis’ poses a potential opportunity to the Chinese, only if that ‘danger’ is managed properly. This mentality has made Chinese thinking positive and flexible, providing an appetite for change and opportunity.

The Chinese similarly believe that when everything is going well, one must plan for the worst case scenario. This is not to say that you should be prepared to fail, far from it. What the Chinese believe is that when you find success, you have much more to lose, and that in order to prevent future failure, one must effectively evaluate worst case scenario planning to ensure a business is adequately prepared for any “crisis”.

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. Confucius

2. The importance of “Guanxi”

“Guanxi” literally means “relationships”, and interpersonal relationships in Chinese business is extremely valuable, as Guanxi has been stated to be their ‘second currency’.

The Chinese business mentality is very much one of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” In essence, this translates to exchanging favours, which are expected to be done regularly and voluntarily. What underpins this ideology is the concept of respect within a business context. Respect between all with whom you conduct business with should be something we imitate from the Chinese business culture, as Confucius said;

Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts? Confucius

3. Strategy and Preparation

The significance of strategy in Chinese business cannot be fully understood without knowledge of the pride the Chinese have in their military history. To summarise, strategy to the Chinese is like chaos is to children, it’s in their nature. While the concept and usefulness of strategy has not been lost on Western businesses, the question remains as to how much attention we truly give it.

Is ‘strategy’ just a buzz word, a New Year ideology soon lost in the madness of trying to run your business, or is every business move you make coming straight from your business strategy? It’s something worth considering.

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. Confucius

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. Lao Tz

4. Re-evaluating what success really means

The idea that a collective board of a major corporation could review their annual financial reports, see a small profit margin and say “hey, it’s not a loss, well done everyone, no need to do any more than we’re doing”; could appear lunacy from the Western business culture perspective. But, such perspectives toward profit and success are prolific within the Chinese business context.

The Confucian discipline, Mencius, made it abundantly clear that it was immoral of rulers to concentrate on profits for their respective states, thus ethics was deeply incorporated into business activities. Consequently, as business behavior was encouraged to be governed by the ethical principles, it has held that righteousness outweighs profits. Removing the solitary goal of profit margins, and instead embracing the fact that the bottom line, so long as it’s not loss, is not the main aim of the game is a valued concept.

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.Confucius

5. What Confucius said…

Confucianism and its role in Chinese business culture cannot be understated. Confucianism has been the most profound and significant thought system in traditional Chinese culture and for centuries has influenced China’s economy, politics, and business culture. Without going into too much more detail than simply stating Confucius was an extraordinarily wise man whose words, even to this day, can prove very valuable to businesspeople around the world, I will end this article with a collection of what I feel are very useful words that I hope you find value in, for your business.

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. Confucius

Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known. Confucius

The superior man makes the difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later.Confucius

Read our ultimate guide on choosing the right management style to every situation.

Top image: Steve Webel

We need to develop partnering relationships in business all the time; whether it be joint ventures or strategic alliances, selling through distributor partners or partnering with your suppliers. The more effective we are in building these relationships, the more benefit we will get from the partnership, particularly in creating business growth. Follow these communication tips and you will get a lot more value from your partnering arrangements.

  1. Formalise mutually agreed goals. It is important to establish and mutually agree the goals for each partner and the partnership at the beginning. That is ‘what does everyone want?’ This ensures everyone knows where they stand and what value is to be delivered to each party. Also ensure that individual goals do not conflict with each other and that the joint goal provides a strategic advantage to each party. Document your agreement as a stake in the ground so you can refer to it when necessary.
  2. Deliver win-win value. All business relationships are based on achieving objectives that benefit the business on both sides. Once you have defined the objectives, monitor the partnership’s progress to ensure everyone is getting what they want from it. Make sure you deliver the value as agreed and that no-one is benefiting at the expense of the other party.
  3. Make communication a two-way exercise. Relationships are based on two people interacting and communicating. Both people need to want to be in the relationship and also to want to communicate. If only one person wants the relationship then it is called “stalking”. So be clear that you both want the partnership and keep the two-way communication occurring on a regular and ongoing basis.
  4. Resolve conflict when it occurs. Never leave it to fester like an infected sore. Always meet, face to face if you can, to discuss what is happening and why you aren’t happy about it. The quicker you discuss it, the sooner it can be resolved so it does not degenerate the partnership. You may be anxious about such a conversation, so just be true to what is right for you and stay open to possible resolutions. It will be easier than you think.
  5. Jointly plan the activities. Get together to brain storm, discuss and document a written plan of who is doing what in the partnership. Then make sure you review and extend it quarterly, at least. This creates clarity in the partnership and defines the responsibilities. It will prevent a lot of conflict and therefore save you from the difficult conversations. If conflict does occur, documented goals, objectives and plans make it much easier to resolve the problem. Also together you can achieve much more than on your own – and isn’t that why you partner in business in the first place.

Good communication is critical in business partnerships because without it you do not have a relationship and you do not have any boundaries to define the partnership. So whenever you are working with anyone in your business, follow these tips and you will find the business progresses a lot more easily. Good luck with your partnerships. By the way, you can try applying these to your intimate partnership too and see what a difference it makes.

Janeen Sonsie

Janeen is the founder of Get Real Communication and an international speaker, coach and facilitator who is passionate about how people communicate and relate to each other in all relationships – both business and personal. For the last 20 years Janeen has been facilitating hands-on workshops with some of the world’s leading companies (such as Cisco, HP, Oracle and Microsoft) in over 10 countries around Asia-Pacific, the UK and the USA helping them improve their communication, relationships and profits. Janeen is available for business and relationship coaching.

Top image: credit