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     Secrets of Successful Couplepreneurs

Are you in business with your life partner and can't tell the difference between your bedroom and the boardroom? Welcome to the world of COUPLEPRENEURS!

What are "Couplepreneurs"? This term describes any two persons living together in a committed RELATIONSHIP and also running a business together. Couplepreneurship is a growing phenomenon for several reasons, including:
  • corporate downsizing
  • more women entering the workforce
  • early retirees looking for another venture
  • technology letting small business support a family
Being partners at home and in business is not only doubly challenging, but exponentially more COMPLICATED than being partners in only one of these endeavors. So, for couples finding some bumps traveling the Couplepreneur road, Couplepreneurs who want more from either their personal or business partnership; and those considering embarking on the Couplepreneur adventure here are some tips.

Have a shared, clear VISION of your ideal business and relationship with an integrated plan to have both. To be successful as Couplepreneurs requires planning a life-with a vision that includes personal and relationship goals as well as business goals. If both partners are not going in the same direction toward common GOALS, they will grow apart. Idealistically, partners will always be on the same wavelength. Realistically, they may start out with different goals and desires related to the business, or as the business and family circumstances change, their dreams may diverge. Successful couplepreneurs look for creative alternatives that honor both partner's visions.

Since values are the principles and beliefs that guide decisions, attitudes and behaviors; partners' values must be acceptable to each other. If partners are forced to act contrary to their core values frustration and STRUGGLE will ensue. Assumedly partners have similar values since they are a couple sharing a life. However, when partners team up in business they may become aware of some aspects of their partner's value system of which they were previously UNAWARE. Values about money, commitment, work ethic, integrity, authority and responsibility may become much more significant when sharing both personal and business lives. Successful couplepreneurs honor each others' values at home and in business.

Communicate and negotiate to effectively resolve CONFLICTS. Perfect communication between any two human beings is not realistic. However, when partners learn to manage their preferred communication styles and take advantage of their complementary skills, their relationship and business both benefit. When they support each other's natural problem solving process, conflicts are resolved more quickly and easily. Through experience they have learned what works for each partner -- whether one needs to retreat, be reassured, blow off steam, etc. They know that it is important not to JUDGE each other for reacting differently to conflict, and it is most important to not take their partner's reactions personally. They focus the anger and frustration on the problem and not on each other. Successful Couplepreneurs solve conflicts together by creatively implementing a joint solution.

Beliefs about money are integral to a person's value system -- and risk tolerance is based on beliefs about money. Successful Couplepreneurs have examined their money beliefs, including the following:
  • Is each partner optimistic or pessimistic about money?
  • Do they have the abundance or scarcity mentality?
  • What is each partner willing to risk for the business?
  • What is the financial line each will not cross?
For success, the more risk tolerant partner must agree not to EXCEED the level acceptable to the more conservative partner. When the less risk tolerant partner feels that their boundary is being respected, they then become more FLEXIBLE within that boundary.

Successful Couplepreneurs realize that a major reason to team up in business with your life partner is to bring in a different perspective, from someone you already TRUST. Couplepreneurs who make it work, not only tolerate their differences but make the most of them. It is said that in love, opposites attract -- and differing skills and ideas often make for the best business partnerships. Successful couplepreneurs attempt to assign business ROLES according to strengths, skills, and styles. They figure out right at the start who is going to be in charge of what -- and then stay out of each other's way.

This means presenting a united front. Successful Couplepreneurs resolve conflicts in PRIVATE and do not allow others to play one of them against the other. In public, they collaborate and support each other's positions. In the book "Working Together", Frank and Sharan Barnett introduce the concept of "wegos" instead of egos. A wego COMBINES the individual egos into a force that focuses on the relationship and the enterprise instead of one's self. It evolves from the confidence of each partner that together they possess the capabilities to achieve their goals and the realization that without "ourselves", the concept of "myself" is meaningless. Successful Couplepreneurs leave their egos at the door to their business and assume their wegos.

The relationship and family come BEFORE the business. A strong partnership and happy home are a practical necessity -- a kind of insurance policy against the slings and arrows of business life. Successful Couplepreneurs make firm rules about where and when talking about business is off-limits. They realize that this is vitally important in maintaining the couple relationship -- and their sanity. They don't wait until they have spare time to spend QUALITY time with their partner. Instead of waiting until there is time, they make the time. They do not let the business become a round-the-clock obsession. They carve out separate and distinct times to relax and have fun together (and with the kids, if any), even if it's only for a few hours a week.

Building a business with your life partner is a great opportunity to learn and to GROW professionally and personally, and doesn't have to be a struggle. In fact, your commitment to each other and having common goals produces a synergy that can enhance the business, making it more successful because you are in it together.


Jean Charles is a business coach, a licensed healthcare professional and a Couplepreneur. She specializes in helping other Couplepreneurs™ reap the rewards of building successful businesses with their life partners. You may contact her at or visit her website at www.couplepreneurs.com.

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