This is part 3 of a 6 part series on husband and wife photography teams. In this series I highlight many of the struggles Geoff and I faced as husband and wife business partners and how we overcame them. Look for the series posts on Fridays.
Determine if the Arrangement is a Partnership or “Helping Out”
When you work with your spouse, it’s important to determine and get agreement on if this is a partnership or if one person is just helping the other person out. Is there a boss or will all decisions be made jointly? This is key to consider and discuss. If one partner begin helping the other out, that can eventually lead to a partnership, but the waters get murky along the way. If your spouse is coming home from their 9-5 to help out on the side, they may feel that they are doing you a favor to help you.
After a while, if they don’t feel appreciated for their efforts (when they could be watching TV or relaxing) then resentment can easily build. On the other hand, they might begin to feel ownership with some of the decision making and direction of the business before you are ready to let go of having the final say.
In the beginning, it was definitely a case of me helping Geoff out (as far as I was concerned). In his mind, it was always a partnership. This was the cause of many, many fights and disagreements in our first few years. We didn’t even realize what the problem was, we just bickered. I felt underappreciated and that I was working 2 jobs. I expected Geoff to work as many hours or more than me, and I interpreted those hours as every hour I was at my desk, he needed to be there too. Unfortunately him being a night owl and me being a morning person, you can see where this became a hot button issue for us.
Until I began to see myself as a partner, I never really took ownership of the business or felt in charge of its success. Once I began to think of myself differently, everything began to click and fall into place. We began to address our bottlenecks and struggles as a team, and it made all the difference in the world.
What struggles have you experienced in working with your spouse? Please share your experience in the comments below.