In This Episode

One of the things we talk about often when it comes to business partners is the timing of difficult discussions.  This is especially important when those business partners are also life partners because you’re going to be seeing this person after work as well.  The last thing you want to do is let things that happened at work impact what happens at home.  But hey, we’re all human.  And sometimes our emotions and best intentions can get in the way.

We’ve been blessed to coach dozens of couples who are also business partners over the years.  One of the areas we focus hard on when one spouse is considering jumping in to join the business is making sure we protect the personal relationship.  One of the ways we do that is by focusing on what happens if things don’t work out.  More specifically we talk about what it looks like if things aren’t working out or if that spouse is starting to drown and needs help or wants to tap out.

If you’ve been in business with your significant other for more than a year, we can guarantee there have been situations where your partner is drowning and you haven’t been quite sure how to help.  One of the reasons is that you’re worried about what’s going to happen when we get home.  But like any other relationship, it’s often best not to let things fester too long.

So here are some tips for how to know when it’s time to jump in to help:

  • Ask: sometimes it’s as simple as asking a question.  Something along the lines of “How’s it going” will often do the trick.  You’ll be able to tell a lot by how your significant other responds to this question.  It could be something short and sweet like “Fine” which as men we know is never a good response.  They may be honest with you and tell you they are struggling and all they needed was this invitation from you.  Or it could lead to a melt down or something in between.  In any case, sometimes just asking a simple question will let you know if it’s time to jump in.
  • Observe: pay attention to what’s going on.  Not just with your significant other, but also with the folks around them.  How’s the rest of the team responding to them?  How about customers and vendors?  Is your spouse doing a great job of acting like a duck on water where everything appears calm, cool, and collected, and only you realize they are paddling like hell underneath?  Keep in mind, you’ve already asked them how things are going and you didn’t get an invitation to help.  So now you’re looking for windows of opportunity and real life examples that involve other folks who are part of your business.
  • Prepare and be Gentle: if you’ve noticed some issues, it’s time to jump in.  The key here is preparing and being gentle.  These types of conversations can get overheated in a hurry especially if your significant other feels like they are being attacked.  Be sure to explain what you have been observing and give specific examples of what you’ve seen and the impact it’s had.  Since this is also your life parter, you can also bring up examples of what’s happened in your personal life and how these stresses in the business have impacted this as well.  Be ready for a counteroffensive as well when they start to point out all the things you haven’t been doing well either.
  • Sound the Alarms: if none of the above work, you need to then be a little more aggressive and sound the alarms.  You need to push hard for changes to happen.  This can include getting your spouse some help with tasks in the business or perhaps giving them a path to work their way out of the business.

Whatever your particular situation, don’t wait too long to take on these challenges when you notices you spouse is drowning in the business.  We’ve seen it happen too often when one or both fail, the business and the personal relationship.  It doesn’t have to be that way and knowing when and how to jump in to save your drowning partner is key to your success.

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