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The Science Behind Working With Your Spouse

Neither marriage nor entrepreneurship nor combining the two is easy, but it often works out quite well.

John Rampton

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When I got married I tried working with my wife. It didn’t go over so well. My wife had a very hard time separating work from family, while I found it very easy. We started to fight often. After three months of working together, we decided jointly that it wasn’t working for us.

We haven’t fought like that since. Years later and with children in the mix we’ve learned a lot about each other. I’ve learned that the key to working with your spouse at work isn’t that different from learning to work with your spouse in a marriage.

One of the most popular benefits of starting your own business is having the flexibility to spend more time with your family. You’re the boss and can set your own hours. But some entrepreneurs want to spend even more time together – and start their own co-owned business venture.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 43 percent of small businesses are family businesses with 53 percent of managers in these businesses are identifying a spouse as the family member who is sharing day-to-day management. With even more people opting to tread the path of the entrepreneur, we could see more and more couple-owned businesses.

“We assume that [husband and wife-run companies] are a wonderful thing because there are a number of high-profile couples who are still around to talk about their businesses and their marriages and how they make it worked,” says Wharton management professor Laura Huang. “But in general, it may not be a good idea to go into business with your spouse.”

Related: Taking the Entrepreneurial Leap? Get Your Spouse on Board

Yes. Working with your spouse comes with a lot of pros. One pro is sharing the same goals and values and being able to celebrate success together. While you’re celebrating – the spouse actually knows what you are celebrating and why it’s important. The spouse-partners seem to have a deep trust and understanding of each other, personally, as well.

business-couple-fight

There’s also the other side – the cons. This includes handling the pressures of the working situation in a different way. Think about how you might bring work stress home then try not to discuss the elephant in the room. The personal and professional pressures then, sometimes become intermixed.

But, what does science actually say about working with your spouse.

A five-year study of around 5,000 couples conducted by Brittany Solomon and Joshua Jackson of Washington University in St. Louis found that a spouse’s personality affects your career.

Their research uncovered that conscientious people foster success wherever they are, and in whatever space they live in. Conscientiousness is characterized by a tendency to be organized and dependable. It also creates conditions that foster success in all other areas of their lives.

Because of their innate attention to detail, conscientous people notice and support their spouse by helping them complete day-to-day household tasks. The conscientious person encourages habits like reliability, and helps others to reduces their overall stress. They are more likely to be promoting a healthy work-life balance.

While that’s a start and provides a little insight, it doesn’t focus on couples working with each other in a joint business venture.

Research from the Danish Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) [I know, the acronym doesn’t match in English] looked into this phenomena. The Institute collected a sample of 1,069 Danish couples who had established a joint enterprise between 2001 and 2010.

The research found that starting a business together provided significant income gains for the couple. Nicole Torres in the Harvard Business Review, commented on this research. Torres “suggests that starting a business together is typically a sound investment of both spouses’ human capital. It has the added benefit of reducing income inequality in the household.”

This same study “also found that couples that open businesses together are no more or less happy than other couples.” Data was measured by usage of antidepressants or anxiety/insomnia medications.

Torres continues, “they’re no more or less likely than their counterparts to separate, divorce, or have children.”

On the flipside, a research paper came from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). It’s conclusions were “that gender inequality in the distribution of control was more likely to occur within spousal teams.” According the papers’ authors, “women have reduced chances to be in charge if they co-found new businesses with their husbands.”

Related: What To Do When Partnerships Go Bad… Very Bad

Their theory comes from noting the expectations involving gender-typical work. “For example, men are expected to be the “breadwinner” while women are the “homemaker.”

Kathy Marshack, a clinical psychologist who studies entrepreneurial couples, added that co-entrepreneurial wives believe that it’s just their job to make their husbands “look good.”

“I found that the wives were not as independent as women who were in a career separate from their husbands,” Marshack said. “On a test of sex role orientation, [women in separate careers] tended to score high on desirable feminine traits. Whereas dual career wives scored high on desirable feminine traits and high on desirable masculine traits.

“The latter is what we tend to see with women who function as more independent professionals in the work world. They also have more egalitarian marriages than the copreneurial wives.”

Trisha Harp, founder of the Harp Family Institute (HFI), focused on the effect that entrepreneurship has on relationships and vice versa. “Our research shows that 87 percent of respondents have experienced cash flow problems at some point in time with their company,” Harp told Entrepreneur. When entrepreneurs experience these cash flow problems, their sex lives decrease.”

“Since money and sex are two of the main causes for divorce, this is a little concerning,” says Harp.

Interesting, when the test subjects were asked: “Knowing what you know now about being the spouse of an entrepreneur, would you still marry your entrepreneur?” Eightyeight percent surprisingly said, “yes.”

Harp believes this is because “in spite of the roller-coaster ride that defines entrepreneurship, spouses have reported a great feeling that they are “on this journey together.” There is a strong desire to stick it out. HFI data also shows that when couples create a shared vision for their future, their satisfaction in all areas of life increases.”

Harp’s research also discovered that:

  • Creating shared business and family goals lead directly to greater happiness.
  • Positive outcomes actually result from sharing both the good the bad regarding the business.
  • Entrepreneurs need to be on the same team.
  • Showing gratitude and being loving, fun, intelligent and honest are important.

Despite what the science says, there is no easy answer on whether or not you should work with your spouse. Between the research and from my personal experience, it can actually be a good thing. Besides the financial perks, it guarantees that you spend time with your spouse, who you can trust the most in the world. In my opinion, it’s a win-win.

Related: Building A Hard-Working Team Starts With You

That doesn’t mean that it’s a walk-in-the-park. To ensure that you can survive working together, here’s some of my favourite tips:

  • Communication and listening are absolutely essential.
  • Divide and conquer responsibilities based on your strengths.
  • Don’t talk about work 24/7. We have a rule that all work talk stops before 8pm.
  • Don’t bring personal issues into work. Have those discussions during off-hours.
  • Have separate workspaces so that you’re not literally with each other 24/7. If you work from home, consider leaving the house twice a week and work at your local coffee shop. Shared entrepreneurial office spaces work very well, also.
  • Make time for your relationship, like going on a two-week long vacation.
  • Always be supportive – even during those bad times.
  • Understand what you’re getting into. Entrepreneurship is hard and isn’t for everyone. Make sure that you understand the time and financial risks involved. Discuss how it’s going to impact your relationship and lifestyle. Determine and respect roles and responsibilities. Make sure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to all financial decisions and business goals.

Here’s to figuring this out!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and has been one of the Top 10 Most Influential PPC Experts in the World for the past three years. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.

Work Life Balance

Having The Time Of Your Life

How can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals? And why is it important to take time out?

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Being an entrepreneur is a constant balancing act between the demands of your business needs and your personal life. The key to a work/life balance that ensures you achieving your work and personal goals for the year ahead, is effective time management.

Time is our greatest resource and there are many ways in which to maximise your ability to manage this precious commodity. But how can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals?  And why is it important to take time out?

Unfortunately, time does equal money

In the modern workplace and in most businesses, time is synonymous with money. Whether you bill by the hour, or bake by the truckload, time is essential in running a successful career and business. Just think of how important time is in the service industry, and how time influences purchasing decisions. Think of all the drive-through fast food chains in a city – all there to save time. Because time is indeed money, it is critical to prioritise your time effectively. Keep in mind your most pressing deadlines, plan ahead and prioritise clients and customers effectively.

Related: 6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive

Me-time with a twist

Self-management impacts on your personal effectiveness and includes managing yourself and your time, being responsible for your achievements and being accountable for your results and successes. In business, if you prioritise a company’s time more efficiently, it can lead to improved customer service, improved delivery, increased profits, and increased market shares.

Imagine what it could do for you if you made the mind shift to prioritise your time and self-regulate your time daily?

Visualise that empty inbox

Start by removing thoughts of procrastination and imagine yourself as a “doer.” Think of the benefits of becoming a doer. What would our work life be like if we organised our tasks in order of importance, and not in order of enjoyment? What would it feel like to be thought of as someone who “got things done” and was “reliable?” How would we handle our paperwork? Imagine having an empty in-tray.

Critically, managing your time and self-regulating the hours, minutes and seconds in a work day will free up time for the people that matter in your life. Go watch that ballet recital or cricket game you never have time for. Have a coffee with a fellow entrepreneur and see how these small acts of rewarding you for time well spent, with energise you in your daily tasks.

Ditch the time wasters

A Time Waster is anything (or anyone) that doesn’t contribute to your daily goals or your To-Do List. Many of these time wasters have become a natural part of our work style. Now is the time to change – to reverse the process. It will take time and effort to get rid of time-wasting habits. Research shows that it takes approximately 21 days to change a habit.

For example, at first, we will have to make a conscious effort to keep our meetings on track. If things are dragging on, we need to stand up and indicate that the meeting is over (if you are running it), or to be excused (if your input is no longer required). This applies to all the time-wasting habits we have acquired.

Related: The Tools That 5 Highly Productive Entrepreneurs Use

It may be uncomfortable at first to tell a colleague that you are busy and unable to chat – but as you get used to being assertive and as they get accustomed to the fact that you are not always available – then it will become easier.

More tips to deal with time wasters

  • Fix a time for paperwork and admin;
  • Have clear daily objectives;
  • Delegate work as needed;
  • Group your telephone calls;
  • Be assertive with unannounced visitors.

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Work Life Balance

The Secret To Living A Balanced Life As A CEO? Pick A Strong Second In Command

The key is to find a partner who is strong in areas where you are weak.

John Suh

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Entrepreneurs are not known for having work-life balance. In my experience, trying to find balance as a start-up founder is like looking for a real-life unicorn. If you’re looking to create something that is disrupting an industry, the path isn’t going to be easy.

Building out a new idea practically guarantees imbalance. This is especially true in the early stages of a start-up. Prior to joining LegalZoom, I would work 100 hours a week. It was a fast-paced start-up world. I had to make certain sacrifices. For example, I chose not to have a family right away, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be the present father I wanted to be. However, I was prepared to make those decisions. I believed in the work I was doing, and I knew it was going to take blood, sweat and tears.

So, what’s my advice to entrepreneurs on achieving balance? First, grow the company. Even in a company of 25 people, the burden of leadership generally falls on one person. It can take upwards of 100 people to really notice a shift in leadership. But, second, and most importantly, look for a co-partner that is just as strong as you are.

The one-two punch

Usually, when companies are founded, there is one individual who is celebrated. We forget there’s almost always another person behind the scenes helping to call the shots. Oftentimes, that person doesn’t want to share the spotlight. He or she is happy to have a non-public facing role and just want to get the work done.

We tend to talk about the visionaries, but there has to be a person in the company who helps turn that vision into reality. We all know Walt Disney, and maybe even the previous longtime CEO Michael Eisner, but what about Frank Wells? As the president and COO alongside Eisner, Wells helped lead the company through a 10-year period of unprecedented growth. Steve Jobs will forever be remembered as the visionary behind Apple, but Steve Wozniak provided the necessary engineering expertise to drive the company forward. Even today, many believe Elon Musk needs a strong second-in-command to help run Tesla.

I call this dynamic the “one-two punch” in leadership. As a CEO, you have to think critically about your second-in-command – whether it’s the COO, CTO or CFO.

Related: 5 Central Responsibilities Of Every CEO

We all want to be able to spend our time doing the things at which we excel. Excellence is what drives the company forward. At LegalZoom, I’ve been able to spend 80 percent of my working hours on tasks that leverage my strengths. The only way that I can do that is by having a partner who is strong in areas I may be weaker. In a strong one-two punch combination, both of us are spending 80 percent of our time on our strengths. The key is that those strengths don’t overlap.

How to find a great co-captain

The longer you wait to find your “two,” or if you make a mistake in selecting that person, you set yourself up for trouble. How do you find a second-in-command that can help you lead your company to success? It may seem obvious, but the first key is to understand where your weaknesses lie. It is essential that your co-leader make up for the skills that you lack, and vice versa.

It’s important to consider a person’s background as well, but don’t be afraid to look beyond the resume. I’ve judged candidates before based on raw talent and a gut feeling on their potential. Sometimes the best person for the role doesn’t necessarily have the strongest resume. Instead, he or she has a high level of motivation and a killer work ethic. These are the individuals that never hear “no.” They look for solutions rather than just identifying issues – and they are critical in the startup world.

Ultimately, while you bring different skill sets and career aspirations to the table, you and your co-partner must connect at a collegial level. At the end of the day, you have to appreciate what the other does. You have to share a common vision and mission.

Finding balance, after all

Any CEO with some semblance of balance in their life owes it to the small army of individuals behind them helping to make it happen. While you should prepare for imbalance early in your career and understand the sacrifices it takes to start a company, with the right “two,” you’ll have the support needed to succeed.

Related: Entelect CEO Shashi Hansjee’s 4 Life Hacks and 1 Little Quirk That Deliver the Dough

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Travel At The Touch Of A Button

The revolutionary Travelit app has been developed for the global marketplace to meet your business travel needs.

Tourvest

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Travelit has launched an easy-to-use mobile app that simplifies the trip approval process, provides a full trip itinerary and assists in management of travel expenses.

“The app is designed in South Africa, for the African and global marketplace,” says Wayne Muirhead Chief Sales Officer at Travelit. “We have developed the app locally with our own developers, and opted not to use a white labelling solution.”

The app interface enables the requirements of travellers, approvers, users, as well as finance and procurement role players to be met so each trip is seamlessly planned and executed.

Stress-free financial administration

“Expense management is an integral part of the complete travel cost; businesses want to understand their complete travel bill,” says Wayne. This is why the app incorporates features that facilitate:

  • Capturing of photographs of receipts real-time
  • Immediate allocation of expenses to the correct description
  • Uploading expenses for workflow approval
  • Attachment of an expense to a travel trip, or generating a non-travel related expense.

Simplified trip approval process

In addition, approvers’ features enable simple visibility into the trip’s cost and details:

  • Approval of booking requests
  • Trip confirmation once trip has been successfully approved
  • Managing alerts — approval notifications, pre-trip notification as well as travel notifications
  • Out of office activation for approvers.

Related: How Travelit Makes Travelling Affordable For Small Businesses

Trip management made easy

With Travelit’s new app, travellers have the ability to update, create new profiles directly from their phones and update and store all their information, including:

  • Updating of profile details
  • Personal information
  • Visas, passports, meal types, seating preferences
  • Loyalty programmes.

As a traveller, when you are travelling, you require information, updates and access to your travel documentation in real time. The Trip Manager function provides you with this through the following functions:

  • View current, pending and past trips
  • Trip itinerary information
  • View trips that are awaiting approval
  • View supplier vouchers
  • Locate properties via the Map option
  • Boarding passes are available
  • Real-time alerts to travellers.

Related: Save Up To 25% On Your Travel Costs

Happy travels

“We have done a soft launch with the app and offered it to strategic users and clients within our ecosystem,” says Wayne. These corporates have enjoyed the functions within the app, such as:

  • Real time information for the traveller (itineraries, vouchers, boarding passes)
  • Approval notifications and the approval capability
  • Notifications
  • Contact information for the consultants after-hours, and assistance
  • Access to the traveller profile to ensure their data is updated and correct
  • Check-in to the airline.

The Travelit app is available in the Google Play Store and iOS Store. Travelit will make monthly app releases by offering users ongoing functionality and features.

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