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5 Lessons From Being My Husband’s Business Partner (And Boss)

Eleanor Beaton

Have you ever dreamed of “retiring” your partner, hiring your spouse, or having your mate join you in your company?

(I’m aware that this may well be your worst nightmare.)

But one woman’s nightmare is another woman’s dream. Case in point: each week, I speak with women entrepreneurs who have a very real desire to create businesses that are financially successful enough to enable their partners to quit their jobs.

In preparation for this article, I made a list of 10 women friends who run multiple 7 and 8 figure businesses. More than half work with their partners. It’s a thing, ya’ll.

This became a reality for my family roughly 18 months ago. In a previous podcast episode, I dissect WHY and HOW we decided to join forces in the business.

So today I thought I would do something different.

Instead of just taking you behind the scenes of why and how we made the decision, I thought I’d share 5 lessons from the last 18 months of working with my husband. I’ll get into specific details and how-tos, and these insights will be applicable to ANYONE who is bringing in senior help, especially if it’s your romantic partner. ☺

1. I made him1 pay – and the company is better for it.

As I explained in my first podcast on this topic, the primary motivation for having Leon join me in the business was work-life integration. We were both entrepreneurs and as the businesses grew, having a dual focus became untenable.

I knew Leon had great business acumen and was an excellent strategic thought partner. Initially, I invited him to join as my business partner and shareholder.

He did not get these privileges for free. He bought in to the company – an investment that was psychologically important to both of us. I worked hard to build the business to the point it was 18 months ago, and we both felt an actual financial buy-in was critical.

2. Be crystal clear about his role.

My company is a ‘lean’ organization. Up until a few months ago, it was normal for a single employee to fulfill 2-3 roles. For instance, I am CEO, Director of Marketing and Head Coach. Each of these roles has a job description and KPIs. As we grow, I’m removing roles from people, and the goal is that each person fulfills ONE role.

When my husband joined the company, he didn’t have a defined role for the first two months. This was by choice: I wanted him to get to know the team, how we operated, and for him to see firsthand where the problems were, how we could make things better.

I’m glad we allowed time for him to identify where he could make the biggest difference.

By Month 3, he had two official roles: Director of Finance and Facebook Ads Strategist. Eight months later, we added another role: Sales Director. By spring, our goal is that he has one role: Director of Finance.

For what it’s worth, I made a mistake along the way: I didn’t write out his 3 job descriptions and share them with my team for several months after he started. While he and I were both clear on what he was doing, other team members weren’t so clear.

In addition to his team roles, Leon is also my business partner and a co-owner of the business. This creates an interesting reporting structure. I am the President and his boss – as Director of Finance, he reports to me. We have weekly 1:1s, he gives me feedback on my leadership and I hold him accountable for his performance.

Leon is also a shareholder. In my role as President, I report to the shareholders – myself and Leon.

We have weekly shareholder meetings and the focus of these meetings is related to how we maximize the company’s long term shareholder returns.

I’m a stickler for announcing: I’m talking to you as the President right now OR This is a shareholder conversation we are having.

This one practice – of announcing what “hat” I’m wearing when we talk business, has been extremely helpful.

Wow – that was a doozy of a tip. ☺ What I’m aiming to communicate here is how important it is to have clarity on the various roles you and your partner have in the business…and to try to engage with one “hat” on at a time.

3. Don’t threaten to fire him during a fight.

I think that pretty much sums it up, no?

4. Be intentional about shutting off business talk.

We both struggle with this one. We adore building things, we’re PASSIONATE about our clients and our business and we love working together. AND, I love to talk and he loves to listen. ☺

That said, boundaries and downtime are critical. As I write this, I’m realizing that I need to create a more effective work shut down ritual to delineate business time from husband/wife time. Will report back next time I write on this topic.

5. Get ready for the awesome.

Eighteen months in, I’m happier than ever at our decision to go all in together. We are more aligned and focused as a couple, and our family life is more balanced and peaceful. Life isn’t perfect however, and we have A LOT of tough conversations with each other.

In the beginning I got a lot of skepticism from people who wondered if we’d drive each other crazy. This happens from time to time (refer to tip #3).

But in working together, I have seen a different side of my husband. He’s not afraid to dive into the details. He points out problems and won’t rest until they have been fixed. He has my back and together we dream bigger and hold ourselves to a higher standard.

I hope you found this post useful.


PS. If this article resonates with you, and you’d like to have a frank, supportive and superbly valuable conversation about where you are in your business and how to create a powerful plan to grow, let’s talk.

The first step is to reply to this email and say – I’d love a conversation. We’ll reach out to you to set up a call. I promise you the conversation will be a gamechanger.

1Please note: my partner is a man, so I am primarily using ‘he’ throughout this article. But this is an inclusive blog, so you do you, boo.