Four Ways Southeast Asian Couples Can Successfully Run A Business Together

Keep both your home and the boardroom drama-free

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BY Tanya Mariano - 23 Mar 2017

couple business

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It’s not unusual to find companies helmed by husband-and-wife teams, or a couple that's dating. For many, extending the partnership into the realm of business makes sense: they already spend a lot of time together and know they make a good team, so why not apply this dynamic towards something lucrative?

Still, as rewarding as it is to run a business with your significant other, it can be tough and harmful to the relationship. Problems in the business may seep into the relationship, and vice versa.

But, if done correctly, it can enrich both the business and relationship side of the partnership. Here’s how some entrepreneurs are making this delicate balancing act between business and romance work.


1. Communicate

It's been said a million times, but it's worth mentioning again: communication is key. It's important in any relationship, and even more so when the stakes are as high as they are in these kinds of partnerships.

Communicating well with each other helps ensure that disputes are settled more smoothly. In this Inc. article, Melissa Pensworth, who runs a group of Batteries Plus Bulbs stores in the U.S. with husband Bill, says, “If you don't communicate well at home, you won't be able to communicate well in a business setting either. Couples should understand how to efficiently and effectively handle divisive situations.”

One clever way to improve communication is to be clear about whether you're speaking as the spouse or as the business partner. This way, misunderstandings and resentment can be avoided.


2. Be sure to share the same vision

Bernice Tantiantsu, who runs Manila-based curated furniture store Furniture Anthology with husband John Tantiantsu, says couples must be on the same page when it comes to company vision.

“[E]ven if you have small disagreements in implementation, both of you should be clear on where you want the company to be headed.”


3. Clearly define the boundaries between work and personal life

This delineation may be done in terms of time or location, like keeping shoptalk out of the bedroom.

For instance, Lilyana Stuart, who founded corporate training firm Anagram Group in Singapore with husband Mark, says they set “blackout times” for work. She writes, “In this digital age, one can never truly switch off from work, so we set ‘blackout times’ now where we try, as much as possible, to not check e-mails after a certain time of the day unless we absolutely have to.”

It's the same for husband-and-wife team Michelle Madhok and Michael Palka, founders of fashion and beauty portal, who tell Inc. in the same article that work-related talk is banned after 8 p.m. They also go on regular vacations. “Once a year we go on a three-week vacation to refresh and reconnect, and to remind ourselves that our relationship is far more than just about work.”


4. Do date nights

In between trips out of town, date nights are a good way to reconnect. Writes Stuart, “We now actively try to do something romantic, or interesting every week. I call it ‘DIY Couples Therapy’—after all, who else can bring you closer together but each other? Sharing positive and fun experiences helps remind us that what we share is first and foremost, a marriage—before a business.”

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