Are you married to your business or your spouse? 6 keys to running your business while keeping the peace at home

By Brett Anderson

St. Croix Advisors

There are six items that are key to keeping your business running smoothly while keeping the peace at home.

As a business owner, you’re a breed apart. Many people don’t know just how much hard work, sacrifice and time goes into running a successful business. Then, there’s the stress of not just bringing a paycheck home to meet the needs of your own family, but ensuring that you are able to retain and compensate your employees as well. Add in issues with compliance, taxes and the economy and some days, it’s tough to even remember the world exists outside your office walls.

Yet, as the old adage goes, “It takes all types.” However, if you’re married and your spouse is not a business owner, he or she just might not get it. We’ve all heard the horror stories about the missed anniversaries, absenteeism in children’s lives, and as I’ve talked about in two previous blogs, the divorce rate continues to climb.

Can a successful business owner also experience happiness in the family arena? I say yes, provided there is balance and understanding from both spouses.

In my work with many business owners and their families (whether they’re involved in the business or not), I’ve seen the following six items as key to keeping your business running smoothly while keeping the peace at home.
  1. Priorities — From the get-go, you must both have a mutual understanding of your priorities and goals for your relationship. If you can prioritize one another, you have a better chance of succeeding in other arenas, including your business.

  2. Communication is key — Really, it is. The couples that I see experiencing the most success in their relationships take the time to really communicate with one another. Whether that means a family meeting or routinely touching base at dinner, you must ensure that the other person is up-to-speed. If the business is in trouble, tell your spouse. If something is affecting your home life, tell your spouse. Keep those lines of communication open.

  3. Compromise — Give and take is all it takes. Yes, you might have to work late every night, but maybe those emails can get answered from home so your spouse can make plans one evening. Additionally, the spouse who is not the business owner must also compromise, as the business owner partner will be expected to pour him or herself into the business. The other spouse knows he or she must pick up the slack around home at times.

  4. The little things — Be willing to be flexible. As a business owner, you are pulling long days, weeks and even months, but you also have the freedom to take care of some of the little things that drive your spouse crazy or might be far more difficult for him or her to manage. Whether this means working from home to care for a sick child, picking up the dry-cleaning or even running to the grocery store for last-minute items, your spouse will certainly appreciate the help, especially if his or her job does not allow the same flexibility.

  5. The off switch — That’s right, the off switch. As a business owner, I get it; it’s not just making a living, it’s a way of living. However, what may be your way of living might not be hospitable to your spouse. You need to find a way to unplug so that your life has balance. You don’t need to answer every email immediately, nor do you need to focus on work 24/7. Delegate, wait until morning, focus while at work and make yourself available to your family when you’re home.

  6. Getting out of Dodge — Take a vacation. Regularly. If you and your spouse have an annual vacation where you’re able to spend meaningful time unplugged from the workplace and connecting to one another, it will give you something to look forward to and work toward. Do not skip vacationing together. Even if you can only get away for a long weekend, it could be just what the two of you need.
How about you? If you’re a business owner, please comment with ways that you maintain a healthy work/life balance with your spouse.