Two solopreneurs in one family – Good or bad?
My husband and I are both solopreneurs and both work at home in the same little office. So is this a recipe for marital bliss or a marriage breakdown?
My husband took the leap first. After years of living a rather hippy lifestyle he arrived in Australia (to be with lovely me) without a job or any real career plan. So he bravely decided to start his own French tuition business and seven years later it’s going great guns.
Then four years ago, when I got pregnant, I knew that I’d have to make a choice. If I actually wanted to spend time with my baby I’d have to give up my high-flying career running digital agencies and find something else to do. So my small copywriting business was born.
After trying various office spaces, working in cafés, squatting in libraries and sharing desks with chums, we now both work at home. This means we spend on average 30-40 hours a week in a confined space together. Sounds fun, right?
Well, yes – and no. There are pros and cons to having two solopreneurs in one family; let me explain:
"Maintaining a happy working relationship is a lot about leaving each other the hell alone."
- Someone to talk to: Working with my husband means there’s someone to get advice from, whine to about bad clients and share a giggle with over some funny YouTube clip.
- Sharing: We’ve been able to share the cost of things like web development (both our sites use the same template), accounting software (the one we use gives reduced rates for a second business) and expensive technical bits and bobs.
- Cross promotion: Although our audiences are largely different, there are occasional opportunities to cross-promote our services.
- Together time: Unlike many couples who see each other for a few minutes each day and at the weekend, we get to spend a lot of time together.
- Just down the end of the hall: I think it’s nice that our son knows that, even when working, both mum and dad are close by.
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- Someone to argue with: When you’re having a bad day and looking for someone to blame, the poor beast who’s just a chair roll away sometimes bears the brunt.
- Stress sharing: Stress seems to spread like an airborne virus in our tiny office.
- Together time: Although we spend time together, it’s not really quality time. Also, since we know everything about each other’s working day, there’s not much to talk about come six o’clock.
- Feast and famine: It would occasionally be nice if one of us had a full-time, grown-up job that could pay for the big important stuff – rather than both suffering from an uneven cash flow.
- What did your last slave die from? My husband would happily admit to being a technical Luddite, and I think he asks for my help before really trying to fix the problem himself.
How we keep the love alive
For us, maintaining a happy working relationship is a lot about leaving each other the hell alone.
We work at desks facing away from each other (back to back), we plug in our headphones and stick to a ‘do not disturb’ rule. If we have questions, often we email them so that we don’t break the other’s flow. We take our telephone calls in the front garden; if we need to spread out, we migrate to the kitchen.
Of course there are days when even my husband’s breathing gets on my nerves, but there are other days when I’m so appreciative of having him a few metres away.
We’ve been working in the same small space for three years now and both of us are still alive and still together, so we must be doing something right!
Do you work with your partner? How do you keep the love alive?