Episode 050 – Seekardo Short – Tips on starting a business as a couple, creating common a vision, pitching your strengths, clear boundaries, removing emotion and more
Episode 050 – Seekardo Short – Tips on starting a business as a couple, creating common a vision, pitching your strengths, clear boundaries, removing emotion and more
Welcome to a Seekardo Short, where we’ll be sharing with you tools and techniques for creating rapid turning points today.
On today’s Seekardo Short, Dr Ro and Harminder tackle a common question – Do you have any tips on starting a business as a couple?
If you’re thinking about this question as a couple then kudos. Because starting a business without addressing this question has dire consequences. The reality is starting and operating a business is challenging enough. Add to the mix an intimate relationship dynamic and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Unless you set yourself up for success from the start. That’s the purpose of today’s show. To give you key tips to build a strong foundation to your business relationship. So when things get wobbly in the business, your relationship stands firm.
Here’s the headline tips Dr Ro and Harminder covered:
- Find a common vision for the business that you both buy into.
- What strengths do you both bring to the business? Document these and pitch for different roles in the business based on your strengths.
- Remove the emotion attached to the intimate relationship when having business conversations. Your business conversations need to be as rational as possible.
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Harms: Hello it’s Harms here and welcome to another episode of the Seekardo show.
Today we are doing another Seekardo short and we’re excited for it because the question we are covering is, we’re a couple in context we’re a couple.
Dr Ro: Not us.
Harms:Not me and Ro but we’re a couple at home excited about the future getting aspirational and we want to build a business together, Ro and Harms do you have any tips around this?
Because, let’s face it, you’ve spent the last 12 months locked in together and either two things are going to happen one you’re going to end up in some heated discussions or two you’ll come out the last 12 months very aspirational, excited, better connected and excited about the future and in that excitement one of the outcomes you would like is to start a business together. You’re inspired you just can’t wait so that’s the question we’re covering.
We want to give you tips to start a business as a couple, so hey Ro over to you how should we tackle this on the short today?
Dr Ro: Hi everybody, it’s Dr Ro and again, thank you for joining us on the Seekardo show and I think Harms is picking a really great subject actually and a couple could be any couple. This could be a couple that have been together for a long time, maybe just embarking on a new relationship.
Doesn’t matter what the dynamic of the relationship is between the two people we’re talking about an intimate relationship and coming into this whole new experience of saying let’s try this together.
Now even the concept of trying something I think we need just to address that first, if this is a serious business idea or something you want to start that’s great, if it’s something you’re dabbling with I think there are probably deeper questions to talk about their i.e. the nature of the business and what they want to do.
Are we working on the premise that they’re serious they want to get going?
It could be a retail business, shop business, an online business, property business something that they are serious about doing, is that what we’re tackling?
Or are we talking about what we’re thinking about starting a business and what should we be thinking about from a business perspective?
Harms: Let’s start with they’ve got the business in mind, they’re serious they want some tips to help them as a couple go through this series business creation journey together and for them to come out the other end as a success.
We’re not interested in the business as such we’re interested in the couples dynamic as they build the business.
Dr Ro: Four things to tackle and it’s a subject which genuinely if you get this wrong a couple can find themselves in a situation in a few years’ time where the business and all of the stuff relating to the business comes into the household.
I remember sitting with you a few years ago with your lovely wife Geena and having that conversation because it was starting to creep in. You were so excited about the things you were doing and for a lot of people it can come into everything they do.
Number one is what’s the common vision that you both have as a couple?
What do you see for yourselves with this business?
How do you want it to be in the future?
Is this a business you’ll be on every single day, or be part-time in the business?
Do you see you both having the same role?
Are you equals in the business? Do you have the same skills or different skills? How does it look? Write it out, create a vision board map, it out on paper. I remember this conversation with you as you created that financial security and in creating that time you then filled that time with starting other businesses, which a couple I think we’re with Geena and you were doing elsewhere as well.
I think the same conversation took place there what was going on in your mind because your vision may have been at that time slightly different to Geena’s and that one conversation brought it back into alignment. What happened there?
Harms: I think one thing is we could work in business together so that was a big thing we discovered having created our first business which was around real estate and property investing. What then we discovered is we had achieved that outcome that we wanted, i.e. a common vision associated with creating a property business.
Dr Ro: That vision was?
Harms: Create a portfolio which generated an income to tick the financial security box.
Dr Ro: Which led to both Geena and ultimately you leaving work, that vision was fulfilled and this is a great example for the listeners it was extremely focused along the way. There was nothing I saw that really distracted you from that.
Harms: Exactly and another word for focus we had that common vision.
Once we achieved that common vision, goal met, business systemised I started to introduce lots of new, more creative ideas, we can do this, visions, we can make more money, we can follow our passions but we had not redefined our common vision associated with running a business together against a new target, against a new business, new venture, a new pathway.
Bearing in my mind we had come now, three, four, five years into a business journey already ticked the box but we had not discussed what the next box was going to be.
Dr Ro: On that note, a good question for people to consider is that what is a vision?
Vision really needs to be what is this business leading to? In your first example, there was the real estate business which led to an outcome which you achieved, and the vision was having more time together and stepping back from the careers to pursue other things. If you’re in a situation where you’re building a business with your partner it might be that the vision is that you want to have a global business that produces products in 20 different countries or have the number one bestselling whatever it is in its field.
Could be best in class it could equally be a business that you see yourself the vision is get it to a certain level sell it cash in and the two of you can go travelling with your kids. It has been that type of vision it’s not like a vision in terms of our we’re going to get £10,000 a month. That’s more a functional element of business, we’re talking about the overall outcome so that you’re heading towards that NorthStar.
Harms: We’re not talking about targets within the business that will be developed later once you nail these tips, we’re talking about the NorthStar.
What would you like to do in five years’ time as an outcome of this vision?
What problem are you solving?
Are you both bought into that problem?
Does one love that challenge more than the other?
At this point, you’re also testing each other’s commitment level.
Dr Ro: Because otherwise if you focus on the big vision and I’m your partner and I’m this month we need to do 12,000 sales and we need to convert this much and I want to get out and get this. And you’re like yes honey we’ve gone a bit off track to what we’re getting to. I’m just head down as I’m not looking at that vision any more. So that’s really important. You might be thinking, is this necessary, can we just get to the function of the business, that doesn’t work as that’s when you go down the wrong rabbit hole.
That’s the common vision.
Harms: Let’s assume that the couple have established a common vision, they’re in line, they both have an agreement of what the outcome of that business will be in the future. What is the second step, what’s the next approach or tip for a couple having nailed this?
Dr Ro: Strengths.
Before you embark in roles because that’s what people do they say you do this and this, and vice versa. What are your strengths?
Sitting down, having got a vision statement written out then you go: what are my strengths and that’s really looking at your old CV, what you’ve done in your career, but equally outside that what soft skills you have.
A lot of people think it’s a corporate mindset, but actually everyone has different skills so I think map them out to see what strengths you’ve got that are common and then which one has got the greater of those strengths, but also where you feel you gravitate to. So, for example, maybe in our business I am very good at communicating outwardly and although I can do detail and I can do spreadsheets I can get finicky after a while I get frustrated and I couldn’t spend a lot of time there. Whereas somebody else might be like, for example, Louise who works on our account, she can sit down and spend a whole day there, I’d be pulling my hair out. Strengths, strengths really important without any egos or emotions, pure logical review of strengths.
Harms: I would say why this is important to identify your strengths is what I personally found is two things could be happening.
One is you’re both going to be doing the same thing. You’ll find you overlap and what happens when you overlap is those heated discussions start to escalate, it’s right or wrong, we should be doing it this way and often the person who is more dominant or somebody who’s got a stronger ego will win that conversation, but at point, the other partner will get fed up.
That’s one reason for doing it.
Dr Ro: I think acceptance of those strengths.
You remove yourself, you list it out and then you put your case forward and look for which areas of the business you will naturally gravitate to because of those strengths, rather than going to those areas, because you think maybe I should do it. No one else can do it right now which is a classic mistake people make or because I’m the only one that really can do this because you’ve only got one way of doing it.
Harms: What we’re saying is almost treat this like a job interview at the start. You are pitching yourself, you are saying these are my strengths, this is why I should have this role. Pitch for the job you want.
Dr Ro: If you sat there and said these are the four areas of the business that we need to have operational we’ve got our vision, what strengths do we need to fulfil these four areas and then you list out those strengths and then you match your own strengths across those areas as well.
You say I can hit up that division or vice versa but there’re two areas with gaps and this is dangerous as everyone tries to jump in on everything.
Harms: Interestingly, the way we’re having this conversation is a very rational business-based conversation, if a couple is thinking this is very business orientated all of a sudden this is a serious can you lead us to number three.
Dr Ro: I think this is a good point Harms, that’s not to say we haven’t had heated discussions in the past, not negatively but emotionally about something you’ve got to remove the emotion.
That’s the challenge with a couple two independent people can bring emotion to the table, but they haven’t had an intimate relationship, there is a natural boundary there, but when you’ve woken up with that person you’ve been sick with that person, travelled with them, committed to that person all of a sudden there is greyness in between where what’s business and what’s not. I think the first step in this is to literally remove any emotion from the decisions you make in other words, when you sit down it’s a business decision and if you feel emotion coming into it try and differentiate between emotion attached to the business versus emotional attached to that person.
That’s a very important distinction.
For example you and Geena how have you approached it for when you had situations that might potentially cross over into one of you getting more emotional?
Harms: The way we attached it and I think this will lead us to one of the final stages is we created boundaries early on. I think one way that really worked and helped us in the early days we had a buddy who would listen in on the conversations and be the objective voice.
Dr Ro: An external viewpoint, a coach and mentor, business partner, someone you bring in as an adviser.
Harms: That was the next stage, so at first it started as a buddy we saw the value in having somebody sit there third-party, then it developed into a coach and developed into a business mentor and now we still to date when it comes to certain parts of business have a mentor or coach with us.
The magic of that is they are removed emotionally.
They haven’t woken up with us, they weren’t in the kitchen with us the night before they were able to ask us rational questions without any judgement. I think taking the judgement out of it is a big one.
Dr Ro: This is where as you know that person so well you can read their body language. I think there has to be this clean line in terms of emotion. Any business operates with emotion, but also has an element of emotionlessness if that makes sense. Especially when it comes to money and finances you can’t crossover that at all. That will be the main third area is having a sensible, logical conversation so what’s our vision?
Which can be emotional but is about the actual business play to your strengths again remove emotion from it. You’ve got to put the case forward as though you’re pitching to your own business partner or to someone who is going to employ you.
The conversations have to be clean about the business and you don’t start bringing up past stuff that can’t come into play here it has to be completely focused on the business and not on the emotional relationship you had all these years.
Harms: I totally agree and what I’d say is if you’re already a couple getting excited by these tips and you’re thinking what if things get heated in the future with the business and relationship I would say the next level beyond that would be systems.
Trust the systems will start to be introduced to take the emotion out of it and keep the business conversations conversational.
Dr Ro: Number four, one could argue isn’t it the same thing as number three, but no not quite, because we’re talking about boundaries so operationally on a day-to-day basis, creating really three things.
One is time boundaries.
So what are the times during the course of the day when you’re going to have business-related conversations?
That’s the first thing.
Second thing is geographical, physical boundaries, i.e. are we always going to talk about the business in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, going to the café walking down the street pushing kids in the pram, the answer should be no.
In other words, having a simple setup in a boardroom environment, you say 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock we’re doing business only and that’s it and then the third thing is just that emotional boundary. Not allowing it to creep in and crossover in the intimate space that you have between each other when maybe you’re at a moment when you’re going to connect possibly make love, whatever then you have this flash in your mind that came up just before that, which is about the business. It really muddies the water.
Three things time boundaries, physical boundaries and emotional intimacy boundaries.
Harms: From a personal level, having built a business we had to introduce all of those because whether or not you like it is going to happen. And one of you said it was me in our relationship talking about everywhere and it’s just out of enthusiasm, but what happens is you get to a point where that’s all you talk abou.
Dr Ro: There’s no who are, are we a couple or are we a couple in the business or are with the business?
It’s been the destroyer of a lot of relationships or it’s been the metamorphosis of relationships in the sense that I met people after four, five years being in business and actually they feel like they are a business as a couple, not really a couple you just see them as a business. I’m not trying to be negative if that’s what they want, but I don’t think that’s what they wanted.
Harms: Yeah, sometimes they refer to it as power couples a power couple would be a walking brand, walking business and from the outside it looks like they are a walking business, they’ve got a logo on their head and they’re associated with that particular business.
Dr Ro: Unfortunately with the kids it has affected the children as well and there’s no right or wrong no judgement here but you have to decide, it goes back to the vision. It goes back to what we want from this, how does it affect us as a couple relationship with the family and what’s our ultimate outcome?
If the outcome is we want to have an incredible business that provides a great lifestyle and amazing impact on the world and we don’t want that to break into this bubble that we have with our family where we want to have all these great values for our kids, we don’t want the two to cross over.
We want our kids to know what we do but it’s not who we are as a couple.
Harms: We’ve covered four key tips to get you started.
Number one was to have a common vision, number two was to play to each other’s strengths, number three was to remove the emotion and number four is create some boundaries to appreciate that a business relationship and a personal relationship are different.
Dr Ro: Don’t underestimate this conversation, people have paid me money over the years, we’re talking tens of thousands to just spend time with them over a year.
I had one couple paid 20, 20 5K to be mentored for a year and it was on business, but within a month we spent probably six months on relationship, and it is because of exactly this. They had two experiences in the past this was the third business there were starting and they were like we want help with the business and the more I got into it I realised, the business was a great idea they didn’t know how to function as a couple together and find that balance so they could do the two together.
That’s why businesses fail because the minute one of them had lost the passion of the heart or felt it’s eroding the relationship she pulled back from it and he lost his heart as well, the businesses collapsed. They said the businesses failed, and it was nothing to do.
Harms: It wasn’t the business or idea.
Dr Ro: It was those four things we talked about in essence.
Harms: I want to leave the listeners with some actions and there’s one I wanted to share which is a question, if a couple has gone through this exercise is it okay for them to say no, let’s not start the business?
Dr Ro: 100%, because you’re just chasing money then and that’s a value issue and if it goes wrong one of you will go I told you we shouldn’t have started this and then it creates a crack. Better to park it and get everything else lined up. It might even be that it is a great business, but you bring somebody else in the department. One of you steps back but that’s okay as well.
Harms: I think use these four tips as a filter mechanism as well for yes go for the business or no don’t go for the business.
Dr Ro: One or two hours with the time spent doing this fantastic.
Harms: What’s the final step for somebody to take now?
Dr Ro: Go back to number one.
The vision as they walk away from this lock out an evening sit down and go okay we’ve talked about this for a long time let’s make sure that this is actually what we’re both aligned with. Forget the money and all that stuff it’s not about that it’s what’s the long-term vision of this because once you work towards that it will, without a doubt impact every element of your life.
It has to because you’re making choices that are changing the direction of your life.
Harms: Get a big piece of paper out start with exercise number one. Each take turns to fill that piece of paper with the outcomes and the vision you want and start to get clear on is it common or is not common and either answers are totally okay.
Thanks for joining us on today’s Seekardo Short, myself and Ro signing out we will see you on the next one.
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