The first business of Alibaba Group, Alibaba.com is the leading platform for global wholesale trade serving millions of buyers and suppliers around the world.
Through Alibaba.com, small businesses can sell their products to companies in other countries.
Sellers on Alibaba.com are typically manufacturers and distributors based in China and other manufacturing countries such as India, Pakistan, the United States and Japan.
How to Successfully Run a Business With Your Spouse was written by Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet.
No question, going into business with your spouse or significant other has its benefits. The shared vision and mutual sense of accomplishment can strengthen your bond. But, there’s always a downside—and some unique challenges, as well.
I know this first-hand from working side-by-side with my husband Phil for the past 20 years. We launched our first business together, right after law school. We eventually sold it, and then launched CorpNet.
Being partners in business—and life—has enriched our relationship. However, it has not always been easy. Between managing the business and raising our four children, we’ve experienced our share of trials and tribulations.
Through our years in business, we’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons about how to make it work. Hopefully, our experience can help you.
1. Define your roles. Truthfully, I must admit, when we started our first business Phil and I did not define our roles and responsibilities in running the company. That got messy as both of us had our heads and hands into everything. Fortunately, we learned from that mistake when we started CorpNet, and recognized the value of identifying our individual and collective strengths—as well as our weaknesses. Today, Phil oversees web development, product development and advertising, while I’m in charge of general operations, customer service and inside sales.
Once you decide to start a business together, I highly recommend you and your spouse write objective S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses to identify which areas of the business you each bring the most expertise and value to.
2. Don’t step on each other’s toes. After you decide what your individual responsibilities will be, you must give each other the respect and room to do your jobs. Earlier in our business, Phil and I occasionally found ourselves drifting into each other’s lanes. We realized that had to stop, though, because it was unproductive and disrespectful.
It might be difficult not to get involved with the day-to-day operations of your partner’s departments, but do your best to mind your own responsibilities. This enables you both to accomplish more.
3. Honor and respect each other under all circumstances. Phil and I don’t agree on everything, but we respect each other’s opinions, and find common ground when we don’t see eye-to-eye.
When you’re running a company with your spouse, this is essential. You are setting an example for those who work with you. Always take the high road by listening to one another and logically working through any on-the-job differences.
4. Keep your ego out of it. In our first company, Phil was the CEO. At CorpNet, I’m the CEO. If you let your ego get in the way, titles can serve as a source of division. Rather than getting caught up in the perceived prestige of a job position, instead recognize and focus on the professional contributions you are individually—and jointly making to propel your company to success.
5. Family comes first. Phil and I have always made it a point to put our roles as parents first. We’ve found that’s especially essential now as our four children work through the tumultuous teen years. And we carve out time for each other as a couple, too. Despite our busy schedules, we plan date nights, so we can enjoy each other’s company without interruption.
Don’t lose sight of why you started your business in the first place. You may find it daunting to juggle it all, but don’t neglect the people that are your reason—your purpose—for pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams.
Navigating the tricky territory of being husband and wife as well as business partners will bring its share of ups and downs. Fortunately, you’re in it together. You’ll stay on course if you stay true to your roles, maintain respect for one another and keep your priorities in order.
This post is adapted from a post by Nellie Akalp that originally appeared on SCORE.org. Akalp is a serial entrepreneur, small business advocate, speaker and author. She’s been named a Top 100 Small Business Influencer by Small Business Trends. CorpNet.com has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately-held companies in America in 2015 and 2016.
Photo courtesy: iStock/Thinkstock