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does anyone run a business with their dh/partner? Recipe for disater???

(39 Posts)
ClaudiaSchiffer Tue 14-Jul-09 12:07:48

DH and I have recently bought a business together. It's a totally new thing for both of us, dh ex Marketing and me ex teacher/social worker. This is something very different.

Anywayyyy . . . for this new biz dh will be doing most of the work and i'll be cooking doing the books. So far so demarcated.

But . . . this evening we have had our 2nd row about who does what and it is REALLY pissing me off. I also have 2 dds to take care of who are my priority in the day - I have a nanny who is due to start this Fri one day a week and dd1 will be at Kindy part of the week from next week (but will still have dd2 at home).

I am pretty concerned (REALLY worried actually) that with our personality types, it will be a whole bloody can of worms.

Does anyone else work with their dh? Got any tips for not getting divorced/bankrupt in the first year???

Tillyscoutsmum Tue 14-Jul-09 12:15:19

Me and dh run our business together, albeit I only do quite a small amount at the moment (am a SAHM otherwise). It is difficult.

Before we set up our own business, DH and I worked in the same profession (and for the same company) and were at a similar level of seniority. Now, because he's the main fee earner and I just do the odd bits here and there, it does very much feel like he's the "boss" and I'm his assistant.

Initially I found it very difficult to get my head around and resented him taking the lead on things but I have really had to change my attitude and accept the fact that, for the time being, he's in charge and I do as I'm told (within reason). The problem will arise of course if I become more involved in the business as the dc's get older because then, I would expect the dynamic to change once again.

Sorry - I don't really appear to have given any real tips there ! We have a moratorium on talking "shop" at certain times (i.e. never once the dc's are in bed or at weekends).

warthog Tue 14-Jul-09 12:19:07

i think it only works if you decide who is responsible for what, you're both happy with that and stick to it. then in time off you don't talk about it.

ClaudiaSchiffer Tue 14-Jul-09 12:27:00

Tillyscoutmum, this whole boss/employee thing is what I really resent. It's like my dh expects me to be 110% into the biz like he is, and, to be honest I'm not. I am keen but don't have the same amount of time to devote to it that he does and so he gets cross and I get farking furious as I am SO busy with other things.

Tillyscoutsmum Tue 14-Jul-09 12:32:03

Is it practical to outline basic hours of work so you both know where you stand ? I understand exactly what you mean.

Before dd, I was very career driven and was very enthusiastic and interested in my work. Now I do the bare minimum I can get away with and find it mostly a chore blush.

Be honest with dh - your priorities are different. Your first and most important role is as a mother - you will then do "x" hours per week of work for the business. The flip side of that is that you accept that it is ultimately his "baby" and, whilst you have a say in big decisions etc., he is effectively in charge and you are there to help him out.

Might that work ?

springlamb Tue 14-Jul-09 12:38:01

Resign, NOW (only half joking)
Up till 2 years ago, DH ran his tiny business himself while the children were small.
When our youngest went into school full time we expanded a bit, took on larger premises etc and I took over the admin.
We have let this change our whole relationship for the worse.
I realise how naive he is about a lot of stuff, and he realises how controlling and exact I am about a lot of stuff. And with the best will in the world, this rubs off on your personal life.
And not talking about it in 'off' hours is so much easier said than done.

englishpatient Tue 14-Jul-09 13:07:25

I am in this situation too - DH runs his business from home, I do the admin. Has now been going for over 2 yrs and yes, it was VERY difficult to start with, and still is sometimes. DH is so "into" it and expects me to be as well, whereas my priority is always the DCs. I have had to limit how much we will talk about it outside "normal" working hours (DH would talk about it all the time if I went along with that!). I am only working part-time, during school times. When I am finding it really hard I try to make myself look at the benefits: as long as I get the work done, I can organise my time as I like, so I can go to school plays etc., I can be "off" if the DCs are ill, I can take time out for my own thing, I am at home and not in some office somewhere... It was helpful in the early days to discuss weekly what needed doing so that I knew what he was expecting and he knew what he could realistically expect me to get done! We don't do that now though and have both (after many discussions/arguments) come to understand better just how hard each other works!

Do you really think it may not work well? I only ask because it would be MUCH easier for you to get out now if so, rather than later.

BellaNoir Tue 14-Jul-09 21:41:47

My parents ran a business together for 25 years and tbh did not work as they couldn't agree how to run it. They had different approaches and the staff either got stuck in the middle or played them against each other (well it didn't always work!). They eventually closed the business and worked for other people until retiring and their personal relationship has improved a great deal.
It didn't make for a very happy childhood for my sibs or me.
As the others have said you both need to talk about clearly defined roles, responsibilities and hours. No discussion at home would probably help too.
Best of luck.

GentleOtter Tue 14-Jul-09 21:50:37

Dh and I run our farm together plus take turns to look after the children. It works well as we tend to be in opposite ends of the farm.

It has been a bit more hectic recently after dh caught his hand in the hay mower so I had to do the cutting and bailing and he looked after the children.
I think we are too tired to argue about things.

Good luck with your business and compromise is the only advice I would offer.smile

ABetaDad Tue 14-Jul-09 22:08:07

ClaudiaSchiffer - It is terribly difficult thing to do. One person has to take back seat and just be a support for the person who is really running the business. A couple we know did this and it worked well. The woman did technical stuff but her DH had the final say on how the business was run. Someone has to be in charge in any business.

I would be very reluctant to run an operating business with DW although we have worked together 24/7 for 5 years. We only buy shares in other people's businesses and mostly have hardly ever argued. We do not have operational control of the businesses so do not have the day to day stress of running them.

I too was born and worked on a farm with my parents. Really my mother just was SAHM wo helped out now and then. My Dad was in charge.

GentleOtter you are much more hands on than my Mum. I have nothing but enormous respect for what you are doing to support your DH at an awful time and pretty much carrying the business and your family on your own. I hope DH is getting better now. You are right - compromise is crucial.

I would also add that in the end love and respect and your relationship is more important than any business. If it fails you can always get a job.

llareggub Tue 14-Jul-09 22:18:26

We're in a similar position, ClaudiaSchiffer, only. My DH has just started up his own business after his permanent job ended. We're very much in start-up and I'm doing the books.

Shall we support each other?

ChairmumMiaow Tue 14-Jul-09 22:24:23

DH and I did it for 3 years, and it worked wonderfully for us. He only ever wanted to do the actual paying work, and is an uncomplaining type so he did whatever needed doing, I did what I could and I did the management/finance side of things.

It worked really well for us although we did have a rocky patch when I went on maternity leave as I didn't hand over very well. Now I'm back working part time and am very hands-off as DS is my priority (I just do the books). I think DH would rather I were more involved but he understands that I am just not interested any more and actually does an excellent job for someone who hates managing (although he still doesn't touch the finance stuff - we had someone else to do that in the interim)

The thing that helped us is the fact that the way we work fits in with the way we live. I make day to day decisions and make sure life runs smoothly and he tends to have the final say on bigger things - it transferred to our working life.

It can work, but not unless you both agree on how things are going to run.

FiveGoMadInDorset Tue 14-Jul-09 22:28:46

We do, the first years were hard because I ended up doing everything while DH would sit down and sleep or occasionally get outside work, it wa a bit galling when I was gardening/cleaning rooms, ironing when I was pregnant and he was sitting watching the TV, however 2 DC's later (and a bad bout of SPD later) things have settled down into who does what. Yes we do have rows mainly about him spending money without checking (harsh I know but when you are both self employed there can be lean times) but those are getting fewer as well.

Steaknife Tue 14-Jul-09 22:29:26

As others have said it is difficult.

DH and I found it very stressful. Clear roles and tasks are essential. I found it very difficult that DH would expect me to care more and do more than a paid employee but they got paid and I did not. (To be fair DH did not get paid either.) Basically he expected me to react and care as a business partner but treated me as an employee - if that makes sense.

There were times we complimented each other very well and these times where when our roles and tasks were very clear.

so my advice - discuss who does what and write it down if needs be. Then stick to the agreement.

Best of luck.

ClaudiaSchiffer Tue 14-Jul-09 23:05:51

God, this is all so interesting!

Particularly that the consensus is that it's really hard. sad

I think one of the key points that I'm feeling at the moment is exactly what steaknife said . . . dh expects me to care about this biz as much as he does but whilst I obv do care about it - it's our income and future after all - It doesn't really interest me. At all.

I suppose I'd be happy to do the books, and leave everything else to dh but he seems to expect/want me to be passionate about it all and I'm just not.

I think I need to show a bit more interest - and be more supportive but also we need to sit down and properly work out who does what. And if he expects me to do lots more then both figure out what to do with our lovely dds.

Sigh, i do rather feel we'll be divorced within the year.

ClaudiaSchiffer Tue 14-Jul-09 23:14:38

11areggub would love to have a mutual whinge support group.

How are you guys managing? What's the business? Start ups are HARD work - dh has been involved in two and didn't want to do it again so we've bought something established this time. Dunno if that's better or not - definitely more expensive!

llareggub Tue 14-Jul-09 23:32:33

We're a digital print and design business. DH has been in the trade forever and does something whizzy with software to produce variable data within digital text or images. So although there are lots of print companies around not many can do variable data.

The world probably doesn't need another print and design business and he wouldn't be doing it on his own if he hadn't been made redundant. Luckily for him his knowledge of variable data work is scarce so we have an idea of how to exploit that. We are keeping costs as low as possible (I am very mindful of the recession) and have a good plan in place.

DH is the one doing the work but I am the one with the master plan (evil grin) who organises, schedules and counts beans. I'm on maternity leave at the moment and my current plan is to go back to work part-time but if all goes well I'll stay off and run the business. <crosses fingers>

It is all very exciting, I think!

What are you guys doing?

quimotivemonchocolat Tue 14-Jul-09 23:37:49

Decide in advance who will do what and WRITE IT DOWN.

Stick it up somewhere prominent.

Have regular meetings to discuss any problems.

Have a shared diary so you know what is going on.

FD gets to deal with tax and money. Which means other partner has to be willing to provide information and not just fling bits of paper receipts randomly in a pile till end of year hmm

Respect each other's individual talents.

Stay scarily calm at all times when dealing with the business.

ClaudiaSchiffer Tue 14-Jul-09 23:56:55

11areggub that all sounds excellent. Great idea to do something that you actually know a lot about grin.

The huge benefit of this is that I can be flexible with my working hours so if the kids are sick, need me at school assembly (not that they're at school yet) or whatever then I can do as I please. So Hurrah for that.

We are taking over a floor coatings business, it's been going for 3 years and the current owner has built up quite a successful and busy company so hopefully it wont go tits up the minute we get our hands on it wink. Dh is incredibly hard working, and I have lots of respect for his abilities. And he is super-keen on doing this after years in high-stress marketing. I am excited about it and a big part of me does believe that it will be great. But we do need to communicate better - not always something that we're very good at.

lowrib Wed 15-Jul-09 00:49:06

I'm watching this with interest!

Ozziegirly Wed 15-Jul-09 02:10:16

My parents run a business together and have done so for nearly 30 years now.

It works really well and they have been married for 40 years very happily.

But this is because there is a clear role for each of them. My Dad totally runs the business and my Mum does the accounts. he doesn't get involved in her bit, and she wouldn't dream of telling him what to do, although he asks for her input, it is clearly him who is in charge.

But they are a very "traditional" couple, with my Dad as the clear head of the family type (in a nice way) and my mum as more of a "mum" type (a very intelligent and brilliant one smile ).

They love working for themselves though and have a very sucessful business. My dad always hated working for other people and said he would never have gone back to being a wage slave.

They now live abroad in the winter in their second home, come to see me in Oz for a month, travel widely, have a wonderful old cottage and are both so proud of the business that they have built up from nothing.

Chinwag Wed 15-Jul-09 06:58:14

DH & I run a business, which employs about 8 people. (We have been together for 20 years, married for 14)

He has taken over as MD from FIL, however, I worked there before he did.

It works really well, but we have defined roles, and we are quite chilled out characters. I have had to learn to bite my tongue sometimes when he makes a decision that I don't agree with, but actually he is fantastic MD, so it's not hard usually. I am happy for him to be in charge, as I recognise I couldn't do it.

Most people say to me that they could not work with their DH, so I think we are unusual.

I would think carefully Claudia; setting up a business is difficult and stressful, and it might have an impact on your marriage.

mermaidspurse Wed 15-Jul-09 08:01:41

I have run my own business for 20 years, when I met dh he also ran his own business. They are both very different areas of work and yet over the years we have overlaped and lent our resources, talents and energy to each other. It strangely works, the arguements can be huge but they get left at work mostly....

The most important lesson I have learnt is don't employ the nephew with the overbearing sil in tow, that really, really does not work.

hillbilly Wed 15-Jul-09 12:32:18

My dh has his own business and I joined him about 6 years ago. I was full time until dc's were born and now I work part time.

It works well because ultimately he is the boss and I help out. But then he is very creative and good at implementing ideas where as I am more of a work horse, getting the job done once I know what it is. So neither of us is fighting to be the leader.

rimmer Wed 15-Jul-09 12:55:07

dh and i run tearoom together. it has been very stressful and we have had a number of blazing rows. dh and i both have similar personalities and work ethics which can cause a conflict if the focus for both of us is not the same. I think what has helped us it to set time aside to reflect and discuss what has been happening at work and decide on a common approach to sorting it out. Tbh I do find it hard to commit to the business when i have 2 dcs as well and feel resentful that i am expected to take on full role in business as well as keep house and look after the kids. I think communication is the key and airing your feelings before they build up to big problems. Oh and also picking your battles. We are both extremely tired and often stressed worrying about money etc and it's easy for tempers to boil over about small things, like running out of milk!!
Good luck

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