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7 Tips for Couples Going Into Business Together

Looking to go into business with your life partner? We speak to 5 couples about how to navigate business with a significant other.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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If you have the grit, the determination, and the stamina to make it work, going into business with your significant other can be rewarding. Having trust built into the DNA of your business relationship creates a foundational security that is incomparable, and knowing that you’re building something for your family can keep you motivated.

For all its benefits, though, working with a spouse requires maintaining a delicate balance to ensure that tension at work doesn't bleed into your relationship.

Inc. Arabia speaks to 5 couples that have gone into business with their life partners. Spanning across fitness and wellness to events and interior design to fintech, these couples give us their hard-earned advice on how to work hand-in-hand, at home and at work.  

1. Learn to Communicate   

All the couples we spoke to stressed the need for clear communication. That means no grudges and no letting things simmer.

Deana Shaaban, co-founder of Egypt-based physical fitness and wellness center Ignite says that above all, couples need to learn to communicate healthily if they want to stay in business together. “For me, working with a life partner comes with complete and total trust. You're never worried that something is bubbling in the background,” she tells Inc. Arabia. At the same time, she tells us that couples must have clear rules for communication to avoid holding grudges or letting things simmer.

Nikita Sukhnani, co-founder of Wonderwall Interiors, recommends having “clear, unfiltered conversations” and setting KPIs for each other to avoid misunderstandings and manage expectations.

Sharene Lee and Morrad Irsane, co-founders of Takadao.

 2. Create No-Work Zones  

Managing the complex emotions that merging work and personal life creates is one of the biggest challenges that couples must navigate in the early days of working together. Couples tell us that creating guardrails helps them stay focused on their priorities at work and at home  

“Being in business with a partner involves a lot of emotions, so you have to be able to separate things,” says Katy Barjawi, co-founder of Sawa Culture Wellness Studio. “I can travel with my spouse and be away from my business partner. We can decide that, on date nights, we are just life partners.”  

Other couples tell us that having a no-work-talk rule on weekday evenings or weekends can help create boundaries between work and personal time.  

Nikita Sukhnani and Ronak Shah, co-founders of Wonderwall Interiors.3. Learn To Manage Conflict   

Learning to manage conflicts and not to let them disrupt your personal life is one of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs going into business with spouses face. The first step: Don’t blame. The second: Don’t let conflicts at work bleed into your personal life.

“A big no for us is blaming. Don't accuse the other person. It's never me against Katy when there's conflict. It's me and Katy versus the conflict,” says Raz Moussa, a filmmaker and co-founder of Sawa Culture.

Sharene Lee, who co-founded 4 startups together with her husband Morrad Irsane before the duo paired up to found Shariah-compliant fintech Takadao, tells us that knowing who will take the lead in case of disagreement helps to manage expectations between her and her husband. “There should be an agreement that one person will always have the upper hand. One of you has to be able to make decisions if you disagree, and the other person must support it 100%. No griping and second-guessing,” she tells us.    

4. Drop Your Ego   

For Ronak Shah, co-founder of Wonderwall Interiors, and Ignite co-founder Hussein Abdel Dayem, leaving your ego at the door is essential to working with a spouse.    

“Drop your egos, it’s not about any of you personally. It’s about building a future together and building a partnership for us, not just for one person,” says Abdel Dayem.

“Even though you are partners or spouses, in a business, you have to treat each other as equal partners with skills to bring to the table, and that means leaving your ego at the door,” says Shah.    Deana Shaaban and Hussein Abdel Dayem, co-founders of Ignite.

5. Plan Together    

By planning together, couples can keep the end goal in mind and hold each other accountable every step of the way. Otherwise, they can find themselves getting lost along the way, which can create friction.   

For Sawa co-founder Raz Moussa, having clear goals allows both partners to get on board with the process because they know exactly where they are going  

Ignite co-founder Hussein Abdel Dayem agrees, noting that having a plan with clear roles allows couples to hold each other accountable and guards against friction. “You have to be clear about your plans. What role do I want to play? Who do I want to be? How do we want our relationship to be? If we drop these important questions, we get lost along the way,” he says.   7 Tips for Couples Going Into Business Together

 

6. Play to each other’s strengths   

Takadao co-founder Sharene Lee tells us that having different personalities and skill sets has helped her and her husband complement each other and have clearly defined roles.   

Almost all the couples that we spoke to said that, while their differences have often been the source of friction, as their relationships matured, they were able to leverage each other’s strengths to the benefit of their businesses.   7 Tips for Couples Going Into Business Together

7. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Relationship   

Business shouldn’t come at the expense of your relationship. The couples we spoke with stressed that working together adds pressure to the relationship and must be carefully managed  

Working together is meant to be fun, but it's also an added load to the relationship. Do not lose sight of your relationship because of the business. And if the business doesn't work, it's okay. It’s the relationship that matters,” says Sawa co-founder Raz Moussa.    

Razan Al Nasser, co-founder of live music, entertainment booking, and tour management firm Jimirazz is clear that disconnecting and separating work from personal life is key. “Be clear about what your roles are. Keep working on your relationship with date nights. Remind yourself always of why you love each other,” she tells us.

At the end of the day, my family is most important to me. If push comes to shove, I know what I would choose,” says Takadao co-founder Sharene Lee.

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