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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

Boundaries, You And Success: Why They All Are Connected (And Why You Need To Choose Wisely)

Have you ever calculated how many of your 24hrs you are in “work-mode” – whether thinking, doing, commuting to meetings or responding to a quick mail at a family braai?

Anja van Beek

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I have noticed that many people, at one point or another, struggle to find time to cope with the demands of modern day life, especially as we are surrounded by technology. We are all ‘expected’ to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of our personal lives and professional careers. But in reality, it is a very tough task.

In a study done by OECD, reveals that:

1 in every 8 employees works 50 hours or more per week.

Turkey is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with 34%, followed by Mexico with nearly 30%. In South Africa, almost 19% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 13. This is quite alarming!

The work-life challenge: A key focus area for all managers

In a previous article, I have given some pointers how you, in your role as a manager and leader, can support your team striking the sweet-spot between a healthy work-life balance.

The reality is that leaders also need to fill their own cup. Many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed by what we need to do and achieve in a day. They also say, “there is just not enough time in one day” (sounds familiar?) and sometimes they even feel run-down, frustrated or anxious.

This all boils down to BOUNDARIES.

If you are a go-getter and crave to feel less overwhelmed, consider one of these 5 suggestions:

1. Important vs urgent – make time to reflect:

Daily reflection can be a way of creating mind space as it allows one the opportunity to gain perspective on situations we find challenging. Many successful people make it a daily habit of taking time to reflect.

By reflecting, we can consider what didn’t work, acknowledge what went wrong and choose a different way to prevent it from happening again.

An easy way to start reflecting is to do a one-sentence journal every day; also list and incorporate something that you are grateful for. If you need some inspiration, Ulysses.org provides a few good sentence starters.

2. If you take on new things, consider what you’re going to park?

All we have is time. The way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner; we all should find time to pursue goals and interest outside our family and work life.

Having said that, I’m mindful that we sometimes take on too much and set ourselves up for failure. If you take on a new hobby, venture or enroll for a course, consider choosing something that you are currently doing that you can “park” for a season.

3. Learn to say no without feeling guilty

‘No’ is also an answer. The truth is: if you say no, you are in fact just taking control of your life and prioritizing what is more important to you at that current time. Warren Buffet says, “the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

Related: How To Achieve Work-Life Balance

We can’t all be “yes-people” – imagine what the world would look like? When saying no, don’t beat around the bush or offer a weak excuse; just say it. In a study done by Prof Hagtveld he suggests one uses the words “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”. The latter might sound like an excuse whilst “I don’t” implies you have established certain boundaries for yourself.

4. Choose a support system you can trust

Most working women feel trapped. They feel they need to take control of every single aspect in their lives – personal and professional… and that is exhausting! We need to remember that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.

As we successfully delegate certain tasks at work; similarly, we need to delegate duties in our personal lives as well.

Yes, the #TheJuggleIsReal, I have been there…trying to do everything myself. Being a supermom at home and being an ambitious colleague at work. I felt drained most of the time.

Related: Building Real Work Life Balance

How do you get out of this rut?

  • Get a support system in place that you can rely on. It could be arranging a lift-club at school, assigning a tutor or Au pair helping the kids with homework or choosing to do your grocery shopping online.
  • Discuss sharing chores with your partner; many modern partners are more open to taking on non-traditional tasks e.g. cooking dinner, doing the washing or putting the kids to bed.
  • The best advice that I have received as a working mother was: “be present in the moment”. This simply means choosing to focus on what you’re doing and not allowing your mind to wander to other urgent matters. I often find that when I’m busy helping the kids with homework my mind is already busy with the presentation for the next morning. I then need to refocus and choose to concentrate on the important and not the urgent.

5. Are you clear on your vision or purpose?

Do you know why you are you getting up in the morning? If not, this can significantly impact your journey as you have nothing to align your priorities with.

In his research, Richard Leider, found that many 65-year old people said they wish they have understood their purpose earlier in life. Make time to clarify your vision as this will guide your choices.

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Work Life Balance

7 Ways To Be ‘On’ Even When You’re Totally Exhausted

Trade shows can test the limits of human endurance. Here’s how to survive and thrive on your next trip.

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I spent the past week representing my company at two different trade shows. I am exhausted.

The entire time I was out there, I had to be “on” while enduring the basic conference schedule: Up early for a breakfast, catch a seminar, talk to potential partners/customers at our booth instead of eating lunch, chat at coffee break “networking” sessions, circulate through cocktail parties and make lively conversation with twenty strangers packed around a dinner table. Rinse and repeat. The big question became, “How can I keep this up?”

Here’s what I learned about thriving and not collapsing at your next conference.

1. Know your pitch

When I used to work for The Metropolitan Museum of Art or Disney Theatrical, people understood who I was and what I did right away. But now I work for a start-up called Show-Score, which I need to explain. And so I learned to do in the simplest way possible.

Depending on who my audience is, Show-Score is “Rotten Tomatoes for theater” or “Trip Advisor for theater”. This saved my life. You don’t have the time or energy to give a ten-minute spiel everytime you meet someone new at a conference, so learn how to explain your business or product in one simple and intriguing phrase.

Related: How To Go From Burnout To Breakthrough

2. Don’t talk business non-stop

I’m in sales, and sometimes I worry that I sound like an endless commercial. I am passionate about my company, but no one wants to hang out with a packaged pitch.

A quick sales moment is fine on the trade floor, but when you sit down to dine or grab drinks with colleagues at the bar, what’s your go-to conversation?

I like finding out where people are from, what sports teams they like and what movies they’ve seen recently. And if you are a conference where interests are shared, lean on that. At the ticketing conference I went to, I learned so much, like how the same venue will take a completely different approach to selling tickets to a college basketball game versus selling tickets to a concert. (Okay, that may only be interesting to a ticketing nerd like me, but you get the idea).

3. Take ten minutes of Zen

7-ways-to-be-on-even-when-youre-totally-exhausted_zen-mindfulness_embeddedI must attribute this advice to a former colleague. We may not have time to grab a power nap, but we can all grab ten minutes of alone time at some point in the day.

If you are on a conference floor, walk away from the booth, find a quiet spot and zone out for a full ten minutes. Don’t scroll through your Twitter feed, don’t check email. Just chill and rebuild your headspace.

4. Talk less, smile more

For you musical fans, you’ll get the Hamilton reference of this line. (I can’t help it, I work in theater!) But the point here is that when you’re dealing with tons of people, realise that you don’t always need to be the one talking.

Spend time listening. And smile, damn it. I have made more connections with people at conferences just by smiling at them than by talking. It usually happens during a shared experience like being stuck on an endless line trying to get Starbucks before a string of meetings starts. Or I’ll just smile at someone who looks as exhausted as I am at the end of the day. Try it and your whole mood lightens, too.

5. Wear comfortable shoes, dress your best

For women, high heels without backup flats is a rookie mistake. And for men, don’t buy new shoes right before hours on a trade floor and expect to break them in. Make sure you wear something you can easily walk around in for an entire day that makes you look professional and feel confident. Same goes for your outfit. I have a few dresses that make me feel on top of the world. A friend of mine loves to change out his pocket squares to give both his look and his confidence a boost.

Related: 5 Ways to Get Unstuck in the Face of Creative Burnout

6. Go easy on the booze

Yes, a conference can mean lots of cocktails but I always follow each drink with two glasses of water. Or sometimes I just fake it completely and order seltzer with lime and sip slowly.

There is always that temptation to have an all-night rager when we are on the road, but don’t forget you are there for work. Tomorrow you will need to be back “on” and a hangover is not going to help.

7. Sleep when you can

Five AM flights and time zone changes can seriously throw off your sleep schedule. So when you do finally get a chance to catch some Zs, sleep like you mean it. Plug your phone in away from your bed (the temptation of work email can wait till the morning), turn off the lights, pull the curtains closed and rest up. I almost never turn on the TV when I get back to my hotel room. The pull of late night talk shows means I get what is called “junk sleep,” which is when light and noise mess up sleep cycles and sleep-related hormone levels. You wake up exhausted and grouchy. Not exactly how you want to start an important day of networking.

And the eighth bonus tip: Remember to have fun! I have learned so much at these trade shows, made great business connections and even a few new friends. Enjoy! And smile!

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Company Posts

How Travelit Makes Travelling Affordable For Small Businesses

Business travel made easier, more cost-effective and tailored to your needs with Travelit.

Tourvest

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DID YOU KNOW?

Travelit can save you 30% on your complete travel bill. We provide a complete end- to-end travel management solution in partnership with Tourvest Travel Services.

Travelit, in partnership with Tourvest Travel Services focuses on the SME, public sector and the corporate market, which means it has specific niche solutions suitable for each one of these sectors. To deliver a complete end-to-end travel solution to these sectors, it’s essential to provide services to procurement, HR, finance, IT, travel arrangers, authorisers and the executive management team.

“Our technology enables us to configure and implement the solution based on the client’s exact requirements, to deliver on travel policy compliance, finance and authorisation controls, and process efficiencies every business is looking for within the African market,” says Travelit’s Chief Sales Officer Wayne Muirhead. He delves into the ultimate online travel solution’s simple yet powerful implementation for businesses of all sizes.

The travel challenge for SMEs

The South African and African marketplace consists of a number of challenges, the largest concern being cost savings. With Travelit, the traveller can select their requirements based on a large range of options across multiple suppliers, whilst adhering to the company’s travel policy.

When faced with issues such as where to stay, the best airline to choose, choosing a car to rent, and transfer decisions, the Travelit client is provided with every available supplier to choose from, on one single platform.

Another challenge within the industry is information and communication to the traveller on the move. Travelit’s mobile app is designed to provide instant communication to the traveller and support the company’s duty of care programme. In addition to supporting the company’s travel programme, Travelit provides an expense management solution, as part of its offering.

Related: Tourvest: Martin Weist

Authorisation, pricing, transparency and finance are also priority on the list of concerns for many business owners, says Wayne. “It is extremely challenging to book your trip directly on a website, which has many limitations,” he notes. “The travel arranger is required to jump from website to website, prices are constantly changing and they’re further frustrated by getting the go ahead from the manager/traveller.”

Mobility is about convenience, accessibility and real-time information for the traveller. The Travelit solution provides a fully backed up 24/7 call centre to support travellers.

The simple, yet powerful solution

Travelit is the leading online travel solution within the African market place, with over 900 corporate travel clients, and over 30 Government Departments. What makes the solution truly outstanding is that there is no onsite implementation required.

Users gain access to the Travelit solution, which uses the latest cloud technology. This significantly reduces costs and implementation timelines.  Large clients can be set up within a matter of weeks, and smaller clients can be trading within a day.

“Payment within travel has traditionally been cumbersome and costly. Travelit has worked closely with leading players in the financial services sector to deliver modern virtual credit card technology to our customers and our suppliers.”

In a nutshell, the virtual credit card solution eliminates credit card fraud, dramatically improves credit card reconciliation and provides immediate payment to the supplier for their services.

Travelit’s 375 000 users are supported nationwide by over ten leading travel management companies. These users experience all the efficiencies and benefits of the technology, along with personalised service from a qualified travel consultant. They travel in the comfort of knowing they can always talk to a person who will have access to all their online bookings.

Related: 6 Travel Hacks From Experienced Business Travelers

Travelit simplifies the entire process, across flights, cars, accommodation, transfers and parking. Access to the solution is quick and easy, online or via the Travelit mobile app. All this technology has been developed in partnership with global travel technology giants. “Travellers also receive discounted prices based on our aggregated buying power, including individually negotiated corporate deals and web rates,” says Wayne.

“Travelit is a full end-to-end travel and expense management solution, who can provide a tailored and unique travel solution to meet your exact business requirements.”

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