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Their are challenges facing those unique family businesses run or co-owned by a married couple.  Let's focus on one potential “hot spot.”


Inevitable Conflicts and How they Get Resolved


Since no two people will see eye-to-eye at all times there is bound to be some conflict or disagreements between business partners. However, when the partners are married this takes on a whole different meaning and life of its own, especially when there are employees, shareholders, investors and customers who are impacted. 


When the business is not operating from a united front, others can sense this and it can affect turnover rates, morale and most importantly the bottom line, business sustainability and profitability.


Sometimes the conflict is related to differing visions for the business or how the business is run and sometimes this is personal business that has not been addressed at home and spills into the work environment.


What You Can Do


First, make a rule to keep personal business out of the workplace…end of discussion! Get professional help from marriage therapists or relationship coaches if you are not following this rule.  In these instances there are inter-personal issues that must be resolved as soon as possible for the sake of both the marriage and business.


For business conflicts you will want to adhere to a business model that both partners agree to for resolution of the conflicts. Set up a process for addressing and handling the inevitable conflicts from the get-go and use this process for those challenging times. 


Effective communication skills are essential in keeping the lines clear and open.


According to Glen Muske, a researcher at the University of North Dakota, who studied these husband and wife businesses for over 15 years, “having a good marriage in the 1st place” is foundational to a good working relationship.


With trust, communication and commitment you can resolve these conflicts in a way that becomes a win-win for everyone.


Undefined Roles and Responsibilities of Each Partner


When both partners are running the whole show and are in each other’s business this is a big mistake you will want to address immediately. A need to be in control of everything is a predictor that things will fall apart. This death grip scenario equals zero growth and chances are the work place environment is not happy or conducive to new ideas.


What You Can Do


Let go of control in order to grow and really thrive. Know your strengths and areas that need improvement. Each partner must work in his or her expertise area; another way of stating this is make sure you are “working in your genius.”


That way both partners are playing to their different strengths. If both partners are strong in the same areas this will need to be balanced with others in the business that can compliment their “weak” areas.


Set clear rules of operation and stay out of each other’s way. If partners are second-guessing each other this can strangle the business and marriage.


Understand that at times outside help is necessary. You can hire a business consultant/coach, relationship therapist or other professional when you are at an impasse.


Knowing the “hot spots” and dealing with them when they occur by setting up structure and clear communication will assure that the marriage and business thrive.


P.S.  If you would like more support in applying these principles, give us a call.  In between our speaking and coaching engagements, we carve out a few individualized sessions each month. Schedule your appointment here.



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