Have you ever dreamed of running your coaching business with your spouse, or have you wondered what it’s really like behind the scenes?
Working with your spouse is a dream that’s growing in popularity with many women in coaching, but how you navigate a few key elements can mean the difference between success versus creating a messed up relationship.
I’m excited to share 5 tips with you on how Richard and I thrive working together (and the mistakes we made in the process)!
A Little Backstory…
Richard and I just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary, and we’ve worked together in my coaching business the past 15 years.
We must have had an intuitive hunch we would end up working together because just a few months after we were married we created our corporation, Heart of Success, Inc.
At the time I was just getting my coaching business going and Richard was already years into running his business.
His industry was changing and I saw him spending most of his time mentoring others, so I suggested he get coach training and start charging for his time and expertise. He loved the idea – no surprise given that his Sacred Money Archetypes are Nurturer, Alchemist and Connector, making him a natural at helping people transform their ideas into reality.
Not long into starting his coaching business mine took off. I was stretched beyond what I could handle and was coaching over 100 clients a month in the popular membership program I was running at the time.
The solution seemed obvious and we decided to have Richard join me in my business as a Company Coach.
Those first few weeks were really rocky and how I handled our working together almost killed the deal.
Luckily, I learned quickly, we made a few adjustments and we’ve been (more or less, mostly more) smooth sailing ever since.
5 Tips On Running a Coaching Business With Your Spouse
Tip #1: Give Each Other Space
This may sound insignificant but the set up of your work space makes a HUGE difference in your success working together.
From day one Richard and I each had our own office, using bedrooms in our house.
At that time his room was the larger one and he had one of those big, L-shaped desks with lots of work space on it.
I had this tiny, little desk from Target with just enough room on it for my pencil, phone and computer, so I seized the opportunity to use a section of his desk real estate for my project folders and papers.
My Sacred Money Archetypes are Ruler and Maverick and Accumulator so my default motto is ‘What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine, too”. And after all, we were business partners now, right?!
My gentle, patient and very kind man who is by nature awesome at sharing, clearly told me one day that his desk — the whole desk — was his space and I needed to make other arrangements for my stuff.
Tip #2: Get Clear On Your Roles, Especially Who Is Ultimately In Charge
This is THE biggest key to get right because without it, you’ll end up flipping between power struggles or people pleasing or worse yet, emasculating your man.
You may not agree with my beliefs and you’re certainly welcome to try this your own way but what we’ve done works for us so here goes…
I believe that someone has to be the ultimate decision maker in a business. Let’s face it, the idea of you and your mate being equally thrilled all of the time with each decision being made isn’t realistic.
For us, since my business is my name, it made it an easy choice to have me be the ultimate decision maker. Our corporation is also set up with me as a 51% owner.
I go to Richard for big picture strategy, vision and direction, bigger money decisions like hiring team or raising our fees (something he always thinks we should be doing more of), and his opinion on how to handle certain situations that pop up.
Richard is a Master Coach so day to day, he is either coaching our clients or enrolling new clients. He LOVES both of these activities because he so strongly identifies with being a Master Coach and he is truly amazing at these activities, so he’s happy and I’m happy.
We are big believers in each of us working in our zone of genius and we very much respect and admire what that is for each other.
In the early days I tried to ‘get’ him to do things that weren’t in his zone of genius. That was not successful and caused arguments between us. I very quickly sorted out with him what his zone is, and mine too, and we both have respected those boundaries so the arguments just don’t happen anymore.
Tip #3: Trust Your Spouse
In the first few weeks of us working together I got all up in his business about how he was doing tasks. Yeah, I know, no one loves being micro managed, even my adoring husband.
We’re not the type of couple who thrive on argument energy so we quickly realized I needed to back off and trust my man to do an amazing job. Problem solved.
What we do now is check in several times a week about how his sales went, or how I did leading a group coaching call for our certified coach training students. This gives my hyper controlling Ruler a chance to make sure all the ‘t’s are being crossed the way I like, and he doesn’t feel mothered. We have a natural, easy style for this that’s mostly me asking “How did it go with _____” versus “Did you do this?” and as a result, the energy between us stays open, supportive and loving.
Which leads me to…
Tip #4 Create Clear Boundaries Between Work Time and Married Time
I am so passionate about my business I could talk about it all day long so any time I had a moment with Richard outside of work hours (driving in the car, horseback riding together, dancing, vacationing, you name it) I would bubble up with ideas I wanted to get his feedback on, brainstorm about, etc.
Did he love that I did that?
Um…No. Not for a moment.
And likewise, I would get all stressed out if, as we were climbing into bed, he would ask me a scheduling question. Scheduling is not my zone of genius and stresses me out so every time he did that I would look at him and say, “Really? You didn’t just ask me that, did you?!”
I have to respect that he doesn’t want to spontaneously discuss the entire vision for our business on a Saturday afternoon so I’m pretty good about letting him know ahead of time when one of these conversations needs to happen. And he doesn’t mention the word schedule in the bedroom. 🙂
We’re both good about relationship time so that once we are ‘done’ for the day, we don’t talk shop. This simple rule makes for quiet time in the evening and a clear separation of business and pleasure.
Tip #5 Everyone Gets Paid For Their Role
There are soooo many additional tips I could share with you about working with your spouse, but I’m choosing this one because money equals respect and someone feeling valued.
Richard and I hold all of our money together and yes, he and I both get paychecks from the business. We don’t get paid equally but that’s because of personal, long term financial planning reasons.
I believe that your spouse needs to feel valued for their contribution and not that they are working for free. Plus, everyone needs their own money to spend as they wish.
How you come up with the amount to pay your spouse is something to discuss in detail with them. For us, it wasn’t about ‘appropriate pay for the job’ because he’s a partner in the business, with all of the perks that includes. And it’s important to me not to treat my husband like an employee. The final paycheck amount we decided on is lower than an employee’s would be (remember, we also take profit from the business as a distribution) but it works for us.
In The End…
I love working with Richard and can’t imagine him not being my business partner. We both feel we’re more ‘together’ because of the life-changing work we do for our clients and that we’re creating something of significance out in the world, which is an amazing feeling. We both love what we do and we truly love our clients — the women in our certified coach training programs. Lastly, we get to sync our schedules and our lifestyle, and we use the business as a huge opportunity for personal growth both individually and as a couple.
Financially, working together has had a multiplier effect because we both feel we’re supporting each other, and supporting a vision that is greater than either one of us individually. So for us, running a business together works!