Be a Boss. Date a Boss. Build an Empire Together.
Running a business as a couple is more than just a popular Instagram meme: it’s #RelationshipGoals. Many couples are realizing they already partner together in a relationship so why not partner together in a business?
Although it has its challenges, if done correctly working together can be one of the most rewarding experiences. In this post we share our story of “how we’ve succeeded as a couple-preneur.” And the 3 best secrets we’ve learned to increase your chances at success:
1. Start Slow to See if You’re Couple-preneur Compatible
2. Decide on Clear Responsibilities Ahead of Time
3. Have Priorities: You’re a Couple First, Running a Business Second
Dhar Mann and Laura G on Running LiveGlam as Owners Together – Our Story
Back in 2015 I started a scrappy beauty startup from my 300-square foot studio apartment in Hollywood, CA called LiveGlam. I used the last $600 in my bank account to collaborate with social media beauty influencers to teach live online makeup classes.
One of the beauty influencers I ended up working with was Laura. We hit it off both personally and professionally and before long I convinced her to not only be my girlfriend but also partner with me in my business.
(Learn more about the LiveGlam Story here)
Since joining forces we’ve grown LiveGlam to 8-figures in annual revenue with over 50 team members around the world. At the same time, we’ve created some amazing memories, have been able to travel the world together and our relationship is better than ever.
Working together as a couple allows you to have your cake and eat it too, but if you’re not careful it can not only destroy the business but your relationship as well.
Start Slow to See if You’re Couple-preneur Compatible
When Laura and I met, I was running LiveGlam by myself and she was a beauty influencer working with different makeup brands. As her and I got closer, we both started asking each other for advice on a lot of work-related decisions as many couples do.
From the beginning it was clear that she was more creative-focused and was great at helping me with marketing, branding and product development decisions. I was more operationally-focused and was good at helping her work out contracts, solving problems and getting things off the ground.
Over time I found myself asking her advice on a daily basis. With Laura’s input, LiveGlam started doing a lot better. So one day I told her “I rely on you so much for advice you practically work for the company, the only difference is you’re not getting paid for it.” Even though I was tempted to keep the free labor relationship going, I asked if she wanted to partner together on LiveGlam – and she agreed.
The transition was easy because we had already been helping each other informally for so long. Had we jumped into being business partners from the get go there would have been a much higher likelihood for failure and conflict.
The Lesson: Ease into working together as a couple. Start off by working together on small projects and see how it goes. If you do well on smaller projects, that’s a good sign that you can work together on the bigger ones. Don’t jump into a partnership both feet first. Start slow and scale into it.
Decide on Clear Responsibilities Ahead of Time
It didn’t take long for Laura and I to start running into complications at work once we started working together full time. I was so used to making all final decisions that at times I would forget to consult her on decisions that affected her.
At the same time Laura is the type of person that has a very clear vision for things and it’s hard for her to break from that vision. If I felt something was the right decision that wasn’t consistent with her vision we would start bumping heads very quickly.
Then one night I came up with the idea of developing LiveGlam’s first organizational chart. Until that point we were operating like many small start-ups do without a lot of organizational structure. In this chart we laid out our roles and responsibilities on a visual diagram that was easy to understand.
That chart, which we still use today, was extremely helpful in creating clear lines as to who was responsible for what. It established who had the final call in each type of decision and really helped us to minimize conflict.
The Lesson: Divide business tasks based on who has what skills and then establish a clear line in responsibilities. Someone needs to make the final call, and that needs to be determined in advance for different situations. Otherwise, you’ll keep running into problems.
Have Priorities: You’re a Couple First, Running a Business Second
At first when you start working with your partner it’s so exciting to be able to talk to someone who fully understands and is invested in what’s going on. During good times, it’s like winning a championship and your partner happens to be on the team with you.
The problem is during the bad times those problems are also taken outside of work into the bedroom. When things at work get stressful, which they always do no matter how successful your business is, both of you are feeling the stress. It’s hard for one person to try to cheer the other up when they’re feeling the exact same way.
To add fuel to the fire, it’s hard for one person to just be a good listener since they’re also in the situation and likely have their own opinions on the matter.
These problems take being “married to your work” to another level.
To combat this, Laura and I establish clear priorities: we are a couple first, and running a business second. At any time if one person says “no work talk” then that means it’s time to be a relationship partner and not a business partner. That separation gives us space so we can just be a couple and hangout without having to stress about work. We also plan a lot of activities outside of work so the relationship doesn’t lose its’ spark.
The Lesson: Establish clear priorities for what matters most in your life: your partner first and your partnership second. Create rules that either of you can use to escape work and just hangout as a happy couple. And plan lots of fun activities to keep the fire burning outside of the office.