Though Kathleen is my most popular business partner, and by far the best-looking in rad lipstick, she’s not the only one that I have. Before there was the partnership that formed Being Boss, I had—and still have—a biz partnership with my life partner, David.
But first, a little history:
Indie Shopography was my business-baby. I started it in my living room over 6 years ago, hacking away at websites and figuring out how to export quality images like a good baby boss. And I worked alone in my business for several years.
But then, one tax season while I was cry-hustling through too many weeks of bookkeeping that had gone undone, David came to my rescue and I asked him to stay on. Now, David is my business partner.
We get asked a lot what it’s like working together, usually by folks who can’t imagine working with their spouse. Our answer: “It’s fine.” Because it’s our normal.
Actually we love it. I can’t imagine not working with David, but—like anything—it comes with its drawbacks, too.
PROS AND CONS FROM EMILY
PRO 1 – He get’s it. If I’m having a good day, he’s celebrating with me because he knows how good it is. If I’m having a bad day, he’s comforting me because he knows what’s going down. Because our sharing crosses the boundaries into work, we can always be on the same page there, and we both like that.
PRO 2 – Our clients love it. I’ve talked to so many of my clients about having David as my partner, and they all think it’s swell. It may not be a selling point for hiring us, but it is a point that most of them find to lend more trust in our direction. When you work in tandem with someone so close to you, it’s a vote of confidence that you have your shit together enough to work with about anyone. And they find the dynamic entertaining.
PRO 3 – We get to dream about our lives together, every step of the way. From our next launch to retirement and beyond, David and I get to plan our lives together in every bit of it all.
PRO 4 – Our kid gets to see us being absolute partners in building a life together. This one is my favorite part for me, I think. Knowing that Lily sees her parents not only working hard to do what we love—playing by our own rules and really helping people in the process, but to see us doing it together each step of the way instills in me an enormous amount of pride, as well as hope that she’ll make that harmony a part of her own future. I want her to find someone who works with her as well as David and I do, and by living by example, we’ve won our half of the battle.
CON 1 – Budgeting is legit. Though I definitely think it’s a good thing and necessary, etc, having David closely manage ALL THE FINANCES—you know, to make sure all bills are paid, all employees are compensated, and that the IRS never comes a-knockin’—sometimes I feel like a kid with an allowance. And as a boss who’s makin’ it rain (baha – I wish), sometimes having it go to someone else who tells me what I can spend and when makes me feel like I’m standing outside in a nasty drizzle.
I know it’s for the greater good, and though it’s not something I’m looking to change because I get it, it’s still a tough spot that I get to work through.
CON 2 – Sometimes pillow talk isn’t very pillowy. Though David and I set some good boundaries around when we talk business, like not at the dinner table, sometimes chit chat just naturally goes business. Sometimes that’s in bed. Sometimes it’s when we’re out for a chill night alone. Sometimes it’s when a thought pops into one of our heads when we’re hanging with friends.
We’re good at shutting it down, or just allowing ourselves a moment to talk it out, but it still makes for a dynamic we have to remain very mindful of. We make it work.
CON 3 – We’re always together. Whereas we’ve gotten pretty used to it, that was certainly an adjustment for us. Spending so many hours with your honey can be a point of pain with potential spouse-biz partners, and those thinking of taking the leap.
We’re both super open to having the other hang out with friends, or taking Lily out for a few hours to give each other some silence, but it is a reality we’ve had to face and work around. If anything, it makes us respect each others’ apart time even more, so as long as you can find that balance, you’ll be good to go.
In order to give you a feel for what some of my favorite partnered bosses say are their pros and cons to working together, I asked some creative husband/wife teams that I know what they thought were the pros and cons of working together. Here are their answers:
PROS AND CONS FROM TERA AND WES FROM ARMOSA STUDIOS
PRO FROM WES
I get to see my lady almost 24/7 – I love the fact that I spend more time with my wife than my co-workers. When we have a win, we win together, and when we struggle, we struggle together. Most importantly, I get to sleep with the boss.
CON FROM WES
Those financial struggles are real and usually a cause for arguments. She also blames me for stinking up the bathroom at the office, so our entire team thinks it’s always me.
PRO FROM TERA
I get to spend every day with my best friend. I can’t imagine what it would be like just seeing him from 5:30-9 while trying to balance babies too. We have lunch dates and flirt under the table during meetings. It is awesome.
CON FROM TERA
Being entrepreneurs, we have high seasons and low seasons. When things are low, we don’t have the extra cushion of the other person’s income. That can make it a lot more scary… but it makes us bust ass that much harder.
Find Wes and Tera at armosastudios.com
PROS AND CONS FROM DAVID AND LAUREN FROM LAUREN LIESS
The pro’s are numerous-
We get to spend more time together. Commuting, business trips, all the normal water cooler time is now with the person you love instead of with someone you probably wouldn’t be friends with if you didn’t work together.
Also when we tell each other stories about our “work lives,” the other person already knows all the other parties and can totally relate.
We get to brainstorm together, plan our career futures together and the other person’s input is more valuable because they understand the industry and our company’s situation.
Another awesome pro is you can bring your kids to work more often because you split time watching them—so you end up with more quality time with your kids.
There is only one con I can think of and that’s all of the sexual harassment. I would file a suit but I’d only be suing myself.
Find David and Lauren at laurenliess.com
If you like learning about working with your life partner, you might also like:
- We chatted about bringing your life partner onboard as your business partner with Lisa Congdon and Clay Walsh on Episode #26: Better Together with Lisa Congdon and Clay Walsh
- Elise and Scott Grice were previous guests on the podcast and talked about taking the leap to build a business together on Episode #14: Redefining the Dream Job with Elise and Scott Grice