Work Together, Play Together
One of the things I get constantly asked is how Chris and I manage to live and work together, especially because we both work “from home.” So I thought it’d be interesting to clarify what we do and how we do it, and hopefully inspire some of you to start your own business with you S.O.
Before we really get into it, I just want to answer another question I always get: “is it easier to work with your S.O. than with random people?”
My answer is yes and no. Yes, because on top of the flexibility we have, we’re also able to be more straightforward with each other than we would be with random people, which helps a lot when you’re trying to get stuff done. That said, working together 24/7 is far from being a fairy tale. There’s a lot of yelling and frustration involved sometimes, exactly for the same reason I just mention. Unless you’re a master asshole, you won’t just yell at a coworker if they disagree with you, but I can’t say the same about working with your S.O. Do you see what I mean?
I just want to give you a little background on our story. Chris and I started working together in the beginning of this year, when we decided to join efforts and our different backgrounds in social media and marketing to create Social Kitchen, a digital marketing company focused on small and medium businesses. On top of all that, he helps me a lot with the blog, proofreading my posts and taking pictures.
We had many convos on the up and downsides of working together, and all the possible scenarios that we could end up having to deal with. The timing was also interesting, since the whole thing kind of happened as we were moving in together. So we really had to learn how to live together and work together at the same time.
So far I can say that we both love doing it, because not only do we get to understand and know each other so much better, but we also have the ability to work out our schedules around activities we want to do together. Working together gives us so much flexibility to travel and do whatever we want while still getting paid, and that just by itself is priceless.
One of the things about our dynamic is that although we’re always communicating about our daily and long term tasks, we’re never physically together all day, everyday. He’s an early bird and I’m a night owl, so we can schedule work around our most productive hours. I’m ALWAYS at home, reason being that I can’t really focus at coffee shops. I need to be locked in a room, by myself with no sounds in order for me to focus. Chris can’t work like that, so he goes to a coffee shop nearby for most of the day. I think that really helps both of us to have some sense of space.
For the most part we try to separate work time from play time, and try to keep our work hours not past 8pm (7 times out of 10 that doesn’t really happen). We also try to divide roles based on our abilities. For instance, Chris is a killer when it comes to ads, SEO, outreach and design, so he does most of that. I’m more creative driven, so I try and take care of a lot of the content we create for companies as well as social media strategy. It’s important to understand that a lot of times these roles are interchangeable depending on what you and your partner work on.
We also try and allocate a reasonable amount of time to work on personal projects. He has his side project, and I have the blog, which I try to dedicate myself to as much as I can.
We always try and expect challenges, because if you go in thinking that everything is going to be easy and cute, chances are you both are going to get really frustrated. Things can change along the way, you have to be prepared to go through some adjustment periods. You also have to learn to speak up, because that’s what is going to build trust between the two of you as business partners. If you hold back, you’ll end up exploding at some point and things will get meeeh-ssy. That said, remember to always be kind to your partner, especially when criticizing them. You have the right to disagree with them, but you don’t have the right to be mean. Remember why you started the whole thing in the first place.
These are some of the pros and cons of working with your S.O. that we’ve found along the way:
It helps you grow as couple and solve problems together: You’ll probably argue a shit ton because of work, and learn that those arguments must be dropped fast in order for you to keep going with the day. Also, when the two of you have to come together to solve problems at work constantly, you’ll learn to do the same in your personal life.
You two will learn how to communicate better: For the same reasons mentioned above, the two of you will learn that communication is the key of a successful business and a successful relationship.
Teamwork: Every little successful thing the two of you work on together will feel much more special because you did it TOGETHER. And it’s always good to have someone ready to give you hugs and kisses whenever you’re stressing out about work.
It teaches you a lot about arguing without being offensive: Like I previously mentioned, you’re going to learn how to separate your work self from your personal self and to change personas when you communicate with them.
It gives you a more flexible schedule as a couple: depending on what kind of business you two have, you’ll always be able to work remotely. Think trips!!
It gives you more networking opportunities: If you of you can’t attend a networking event and the other one can, you’ll never feel like you’re missing out.
It can affect your relationship. If you start bringing personal arguments/attacks or inappropriate personal stuff during a work argument, both of you can get hurt. And you can’t run to the HR department to solve it.
It can cause conflicts over space: It can be really tiring to be stuck with one person 24/7, especially if both of you work from home.
It can be hard to designate roles: One of you will have to assume a more leading position, and if the other one is not ok with it, things can get complicated.
You can’t fire the other person: or quit, for that matter.
If your relationship doesn’t work out it can be harmful to the business: If you guys break up, how are two going to manage the business?
The money part can be a deal breaker: go into it with clear understanding that this is now both of your source of income and your responsibility.
We went through all the pros and cons together and realized that it was worth giving it a shot. And not to gush too much about Chris and our relationship, but it’s been amazing to work with him and see our little projects come together. We make a great team and that’s been reflecting on the work we do.
Do you work with your S.O.? Or having you been thinking about doing so? Let me know in the comment section.