Building a business with your spouse might be the best move you will make in 2021
My wife is a great accountant with 30 years of experience in multiple industries. Over the years I watched her frustration rise as she worked for various companies and accounting firms. One day out of sheer frustration, I told her to quit her job.
I was making $200K per year at Amazon, so I figured we didn’t need the money. I was more interested in my wife figuring out what she wanted to do, and being fulfilled in those pursuits.
Shortly after she quit her job, we had the crazy idea to build a cloud accounting firm. Originally, the plan was for her to oversee the daily operations and pretty much run the business. My initial tasks was to help out with the technology and infrastructure, as time permitted.
Research and Development
We spent a year doing heads down research, writing content, operating manuals, and lots of code. At that time, I was part part time on the business. My full time development job kept me extremely busy. Still, I did not have enough confidence in the project to unlock the golden handcuffs.
Eventually, the research and development phase was complete. However, the technology was far from where it needed to be. I quickly realized that trying to build a business and working a full time development job, is almost impossible. Yes, I could have slammed together some garbage code and called it a day, but Amazon taught me better.
Unlocking the Golden Handcuffs
I ultimately made the observation that approximately 90% of the code base of the client portal would need to be refactored. You have to understand that we were building something that did not exist, and I wanted it to be amazing. In reality, I knew I would need to work on it full time.
This is where I will be vocally self-critical and admit that I did not have much faith in the potential success of the business. We knew there was a viable market, but we also knew there was immense competition. Although I really had no Plan B, and an OK amount of money in the bank, I decided to make the plunge. I left my high paying, yet boring job at Amazon.
It was actually quite a relief. From that point on, I was full-time on this new business venture. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the best part was having my wife as a business partner.
Establishing a Hierarchy
Running a business with your spouse is not easy. However, there are ways to minimize friction and ensure the focus is on delivering outstanding customer service. One simple solution to minimize chaos is to clearly establish a reporting structure. Someone has to be the boss, and someone has to be the employee. However, it is important that both spouses behave like leaders, in their own right.
Reaping the Rewards
We just finished out a very profitable and successful year. We’ve been working tirelessly for 2 years straight, but at least we don’t have to leave the house. We live in a small town nestled at the base of a mountain. We can wake up, stay in our pajamas, and have coffee together. We can enjoy the snow, rather than coming up with an excuse for the “boss” on why it might be dangerous to drive in a snow storm.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Its infinitely important to realize your strengths and the strengths of your spouse, especially when it comes to business. Its also necessary to have a clear, open line of communication. My wife is very good at sales and doing the accounting and bookkeeping work. I am a very talented developer and cloud architect. We each bring something valuable to the table. After almost 20 years of marriage, we were so stuck in the rat race, we failed to see what was right in front of us.