Our role reversal
During the majority of our marriage, we’ve worked side by side. Steve was the program director of our counseling agency. I was the lead therapist.
Now our roles are reversed. I’m the boss and he’s working in my business. Because most of Steve’s career he’s been in a leadership role, he’s happy to step back into a support position.
She’s the boss
According to the American Express 2017 report, women entrepreneurs brought in $1.7 trillion in sales from 11.6 million firms in the United States. There are 11.6 million big businesses where the wife is the boss. These women owned businesses provide employment to about 9 million people.
Our country’s economy relies on mom and pop businesses. But there’s a twist. Women are no longer standing behind their husbands. The tables are turning, and some very smart men now support their wives.
Many of the businesses I knew about where she’s the boss and her husband plays a supporting role had some different circumstances than mine. Basically, the husband had a complimentary skill set. This added obvious value to her business. He was the tech guy, great at sales or offered admin support.
The mistake I made
Adding Steve to my team was a no-brainer. We already knew we work well together.
My initial mistake was asking Steve to do the things that I didn’t enjoy doing. Many of those things he didn’t enjoy doing either, but for different reasons. So we had to re-think his role.
What was the best way to utilize his strengths when we share some overlapping skills? Since this wasn’t clear cut, his role continues to evolve. There’s been a lot of trial and error.
We believe the benefits of working together far outweigh the negatives.
- Trust. I wholeheartedly trust my husband. We make a great team.
- Input. Sometimes I need a different point of view. So I often run options by him before making a final decision.
- Feedback. His questions often make my original ideas even better. Basically, he notices things I’ve overlooked since I’m too close to the process.
- Fun. We enjoy working together. We’ve worked side by side since the beginning of our relationship.
- Skill set. Figuring out this piece got messy. At times, it felt like a hurdle. We have greater clarity now than we did in the beginning.
And yes, we don’t see eye to eye all the time. So we talk about how to work through those times.
Eventually, you will run into some of these challenges too.
- Can you clearly explain your expectations?
- How well does your husband follow your instructions?
- Does he share new ideas?
- How well do you tolerate mistakes or when he doesn’t do it your way?
- Are you a control freak and stifling him?
Communication and trust are why you decide to work together. On the flip side, it’s also the #1 reason that your husband may eventually call it quits and work somewhere else.
Steve and I coach couples in business together. Overall, working together takes work. And, some couples benefit from a third party to help them figure things out. Steve is the relationship coach, smoothing out the rough spots. I focus on the business side of things.
A resource for the daily challenges
Let’s face it, daily challenges arise. Some easily get resolved. Others are more complex. During those moments, it can feel lonely at the top. Steve is my go-to person.
As my CSO, Chief Support Office, Steve listens to new ideas, shares his perspective on how to deal with tough problems and discusses business growth strategies.
Sometimes simply talking about what’s going on is all I need. Basically, then I can figure out how I feel about the situation. Maybe you’re like that too. But sometimes Steve immediately wants to fix it, and that’s not what I need. Rather than get frustrated with him, I now let him know where I’m at before we start to talk.
Although we talk about business stuff on a daily basis, about two years ago we started scheduling weekly meetings. It’s a dedicated time to for us to discuss the “big picture.” During our meetings we brainstorm business growth strategies.
Periodically we’ll really dive into the growth strategy. Sometimes we’ll attend a strategic planning retreat together. This year we’re going away for a long weekend to map out the plan. More gets accomplished when we step away from our day to day routine.
What’s your balance between work and your personal relationship? We discuss our day before dinner time. But, I sometimes get ideas later in the evening. So stopping all shop talk by dinner isn’t a hard and fast rule for us.
Learn to listen
Yes, it’s my business. The most innovative ideas; however, spark from things happening outside of your industry. So I encourage him to bring his disruptive ideas to the table.
Although I’m the boss, I do my best to keep an open mind. I don’t know it all. And I don’t want to know it all.
Whether it’s my husband or any another team member, people want to be heard and acknowledged for their contribution. I used to say “no” too soon. My kids taught me to think it over, and sometimes sleep on it, before making a decision.
An unexpected benefit
As a speaker, I travel frequently. Often Steve joins me on the road. Since he does most of the driving, I’m free to schedule phone appointments or tweak my presentation.
As my CSO, Steve oversees all the details about the venue. And he’s great with people. So he’ll mingle and schmooze the crowd.
Then after my talk, he’s by my side answering questions, setting up appointments and handling back of the room sales. His assistance is invaluable.
Here’s a bonus. Sometimes we’ll add an extra day or two onto our trip, depending on the destination. That way we combine work and play.
In the end, having your husband as an employee in your business can be wonderful. He’s available to discuss new ideas and problem solve. Plus, he’s your best support. You’re the boss. And he’s committed to your success.
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