Thoughts on working with my husband and still maintaining my sanity.

My husband Chay and I have been living and working together for the past 6 months and yes that is actually something that I would 100% recommend.

We have been friends for a grand total of 15 years. During that time we managed to date, and then not date, and then date again, and then move in together and get married and have a baby and also renovate a house (we managed to do the last 3 in the space of 1 year). So we figured if we managed to survive all that and still remain friends, then hell, maybe we could work together too.

This may or may not be a guide on how to test your marriage to the absolute limit.

But have we killed each other? No.

Have we had massive fights and threatened divorce? No.

Before we started working together we were a bit apprehensive. We thought maybe it wouldn’t be healthy for 2 people to basically spend 24/7 within 1 meter of each other 7 days week! But I spoke to some other people that worked with their partners and they had nothing but good things to say about it. We figured we’d try it out and if it didn’t work out at least we’d know we’d tried!

Chay originally left his day job to come and work in my business. Our plan was to expand the business into an agency and bring in some more graphic designers, and Chay would be the office manager and also handle project management (because he is literally the most organised and productive person I have ever known). However it proved to be a lot harder than we expected because we quickly realised that my personal brand was so strong that all of my clients wanted to work with me directly. Chay found it virtually impossible to take over project management because my clients only wanted to communicate with me. It’s tough being loved so much! ­čśé

Brisbane custom signs

My husband the small business owner – looking very pro!

Thankfully we had a backup plan! Before we started, we decided to do a 3 month trial and if things weren’t working out for whatever reason, Chay would go back to work or start his own business. I decided to have a look at businesses that were for sale. We weren’t even looking to buy a business at that point – I just wanted to get an idea of prices and options. We were considering the idea of a printing┬á business because we’d both worked in the industry and it would pair well with my design business. Even just the work I was outsourcing through Flik Graphic Design was enough to keep a little printing business going!

And of course the very first business that popped up on my computer was a large format printing and signage business that was perfect for us! It was exactly what we were looking for and a great price. We decided to buy the equipment instead of the actual business, so that we could choose our own name and start fresh with new branding. We already had a loan so all we had to do was sign the paperwork. We’d already renovated the bottom level of our house into office space, and we had a room that was a perfect size for the printer and other bits and pieces (like literally the exact perfect size!) We chose the name┬áBrisbane Custom Signs. I then designed the logo, brand identity and website in under a week (while still managing a full workload – go me!). So in the space of exactly 7 days we went from thinking about the possibility of starting another business, to being up and running!

Brisbane Custom Signs

The two of us. Not even hating each other.

Now the business is doing really well. We each manage our own businesses but because there’s so much cross-over, we both work in each other’s businesses a lot. I think having that really clear divide of each being in charge of our own business really helps a lot! We’re financially accountable to each other, but how we manage our time and our business is completely up to us.

6 months in and we’re both happily working together.

And not divorced.

And still friends.

I spoke to lot of other people that work with their partners and I implemented lots of tips that they gave me.

Here are my top 4 tips!

1. Have a clear divide between work stuff and home stuff
This is the number one piece of advice that people kept giving me! For us, the bottom level of our house is devoted to work stuff and the top level of our house is for home/family stuff. We try not to talk about work stuff when we’re upstairs (not always successfully – but we try!) and we try to mentally switch off when we leave the office at the end of the day.

2. Have clear roles, expectations and accountability
Being really clear on how we each fit into the businesses, what we’re each responsible for, and how we’re accountable to each other has really helped. We ask each other to do things by specific times if we’re on a deadline for a client, but apart from that we’re free to mange our time as we please. We both know what the other expects of us, and we hold ourselves accountable to each other through doing weekly income tracking.

3. Have compatible working styles
I think is probably the main reason that working together has worked out! We both have similar working styles, so in busy weeks we’ll both come down to the office after our daughter goes to sleep and work into the evening. During quiet weeks we’ll treat ourselves to the occasional long lunch out at a nice cafe or take some time to catch up on errands or do things around the house. I don’t think I could work with someone that was very strict about only working 9-5, or didn’t put in the hours that are needed to make a business successful!

4. Share the load evenly 
We both take turns with making coffees, lunches, doing the daycare pick up and drop off, cleaning, washing, shopping, etc. If one of us has to work overtime, the other one will take on some of the extra household stuff, and we help each other out however we can.

Do you work with your partner? Or do you think that would a recipe for disaster? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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