Doing Business with Your Spouse

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Working with your spouse

Jean A. Santos



Written by Jean Santos, Senior Consultant / Partner at BCR

Being a family in business together has got to be one of the hardest relationships to maintain.  Consider the challenges of working with your spouse, and I certainly speak from experience here!    If you happen to both be type A and competitive, not to mention opinionated and determined to succeed and do it your way, you could have a recipe for disaster.  On the other hand, if this business and spousal relationship works on both levels, it can produce rewards and satisfaction in unlimited quantities.  In my 36 years of working with my spouse, I have learned a few pearls of wisdom that I try very hard to remind myself of to help me understand the dynamics and complexities of this truly amazing relationship. 

Figure out where to draw the lines. By this I mean make sure you each have your very own respective areas of responsibility and authority.  The best working spouse teams that we are aware of allow the spouses to focus on areas that appeal to their skills sets.  Further, the most successful working spouse teams we see have very different and very complementary skills and capabilities.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.While this may be true in any type of business relationship, it is paramount when working with your spouse.  Keep your eye on the long term strategic ball, not whether the appointment next Tuesday needs to be moved or not.

Draw the line on what is personal time and what is business time. It is so very easy to work 24/7 when you are working with your spouse, especially if you are both passionate about what you do.  Big mistake.  Your personal relationship will pay the price.  Set boundaries and respect them, to ensure you have personal time together to focus on your relationship and reconnect as a couple.

Support each other all the time, then find a way to support each other even more.This can be a real challenge when both people are hard drivers who like to see things happen their way.  This one takes focused listening, empathy and an unselfish desire to always build each other up and never tear each other down. 

Work together to define, very specifically, the 5 year strategic plan for the business, as well as for your own personal lives. Ensure that the plan for the business supports the plan for your personal life and never vice versa. 

Laugh, a lot. It truly is the best medicine.  We all need to take ourselves a lot less seriously, especially when we are working with our spouse, and laughter is a great way to do this. 

When working with your spouse really works, it’s pretty amazing, especially when you consider that not only are you building an amazing personal life and family with this person, you are also building a business and sharing your professional passion with this person too.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.  The same type of rewards are found with other types of family relationships in business, including siblings, cousins and other family connections.    It’s never easy, yet it’s always worth the extra effort.


Jean A. Santos  A founding member of Business Consulting Resources, Jean brings over 35 years of experience to Hawaii corporations in organizational development, strategic planning and market strategies, human resources, executive coaching, team building and leadership development. Jean is an expert in workplace behaviors and in job-to-skillset matching. She regularly assists clients in employee selection, team building, training and development, motivation and incentives, internal communication structures and conflict resolution. Her experience in executive coaching includes assisting top executives in team building, personal and team performance improvement, and overall business strategy building and strategy implementation processes.

Jean embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, and knows that business people care not only about bottom-line results but how they are achieved; she learned early on that objectivity is the key to helping her clients to thrive in the marketplace.  By instilling this characteristic in Business Consulting Resources clients, she shows them how to navigate any trend, obstacle, or roadblock to success they may face.

BCR has extensive experience in working with many family-owned businesses in all of our areas of services. If you have any questions or need advice regarding your family-owned business, please give us a call at (808)545-4111. Or reach out via our Contact Us page.


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