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Why Couples Fail When They Mix Love and Business

Thursday, 17 Jul 2008 | 8:17 PM ET

By Eve Tahmincioglu
So there I was sitting with two happy couples for a taping of the the Donny Deutsch show,

“The Big Idea”

I mention that these couples are happy because it’s surprising that they are.

Why? They’re not only married, they are also business partners. I know what you’re thinking - because everyone thinks this – how the hell are they able to be partners in love and in business?

Well, these entrepreneurs are the oddballs. And I said that on the show. (Yes, I’ll be on the show tonight; that is, if the editors don’t cut me out. Which is possible, so don’t be disappointed if you stay up until 10 p.m.. EST and CareerDiva isn’t there.)

I was on the show to offer my counter view to their success.

Maybe some of you couples out are considering going into business with your spouse because the economy is tough right now and you may end up on the corporate trash heap. But think long and hard folks before you share your bed and your company with one person.

Here are the five things that can go wrong:

1. Marriage and business both go belly up. You could end up losing your marriage and business because many marriages just can’t take major financial upheaval, which is what happens when starting any business.

2. Kiss romance goodbye. Many couples say they get sick of being together day in and day out. Even the most lovie-dovie couples need some time alone in order to keep the passion burning.

3. Dining room becomes the boardroom. The lines between homelife and worklife are blurred. There is no way around it, you’re going to be bringing your company woes home with you and vice versa. Right now, when I’m bitching too much about my business, my husband slaps me around and reminds me I need a personal life. Who will be there to slap you around if your partner is also bitching about the same company?

4. “I can’t believe you said that.” Talk about hurt feelings! Try telling your spouse they screwed up, or made a wrong business decision.

5. Battle of the sexes. If you never resolved the who’s-the-boss issue at home get ready for all out war at work. One of the reasons my mom and dad couldn’t make a go of running a business together was because my father saw himself as the king of his household, and that translated into him being the king of the business, even when my mom had good ideas because she really was the one who understood the retail business they started. Now my mother’s advice is always, “never with your husband.”

If you watch the show tonight you’ll hear some of how the couples that made a go at partnership made it work. They were the two cutest couples, totally friends, lovers and great business partners. Cricket and Brian Allen, the owners of Bot, a fortified water business. And Sandra and Kym Yancey, owners of eWomen Network, a national networking website.

But again, these are the oddballs.

Here’s a good example of why Cricket and Brian are successful at melding love and company:

I was in the Green room waiting to go on the show, and just before we went into the studio Cricket turned to Brian and said, “did you eat your sandwich?” He turned to her with a genuine smile on his face and yes, “yes, I did.” He was so grateful his wife was thinking of him.

OK, if I did that to my husband, this would be his response: “I’m not Cheiron.” Cheiron is my six-year-old son.

Do you see my point? If not, I will explain it to you. When two partners work together to make a business grow they have to say mean things, critical things to each other often. They can’t take things personally and they have to look at the criticism or advice as constructive and for the good of the business.

Most couples get emotional with each other. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just reality.

You have to leave you emotions and the constant business talk at the company door, don’t take it to work and don’t replay it at home.

Can you do that with your spouse? When’s the last time you guys had an argument? What was it about? Imagine now that you were really angry at your spouse but when the alarm went off in the morning you had to head to an office or factory together and focus on working together in harmony all day.

If this doesn’t worry you, go ahead. Start a mom and pop. I dare you.

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For more from Eve, check out her blog at CareerDiva.net