Once considered a “professional taboo,” the idea of couples going into business together has not only become accepted, but is quite commonplace today. When you consider the combination of an existing close and compatible relationship, shared goals and much support for one another, business and romantic partnership actually sounds like a natural fit. In fact, 43% of small businesses are family businesses, with 53% of managers in these businesses identifying a spouse as sharing day-to-day management.

With today being Valentine’s Day, we spoke with a couple who knows all about the art of balancing a relationship with running their business. Jesse Dobie and Adrian Fawcett are the Co-Founders of Switch Sails, a sail-making business located on the Redcliffe Peninsula, Queensland, Australia. Jesse and Adrian use Invoice2go to run their business behind the scenes, but gave us some insights into running their business together, as well as providing some invaluable tips for keeping the spark alive in both their personal and business partnerships. Here’s what they had to say.

Do you think it’s important to keep your relationship separate from your business?
It’s impossible to separate your relationship from your business, but I think that’s what makes small family-run businesses so great. You’re both already working on being successful in all aspects of life, so why not do it together in a professional capacity too, instead of just turning up to get a wage?

Do you have any pearls of wisdom when it comes to maintaining a balance between your business and personal life?
It’s all too easy to say yes to everything when you work for yourself, but learning to say no is so important too. Sometimes big jobs with tight deadlines can mean long hours, but as a rule, we suggest setting sensible hours and sticking to them. 

What does a work/life balance mean to you?
Our goal is to work hard, so that we are able to enjoy playtime more than just the traditional 9-5 work/holiday schedule.

What are the perks of working alongside your partner?
The main perk is getting to spend more than just a couple of hours a day together. We also have regular mid-week lunches and a flexible work schedule, which we couldn’t do if we worked separately.

What’s your number one tip for other couples who have entered business together?
The key for any couple running a business together is maintaining good communication. 

Have you faced any problems working alongside your partner? If so, how do you manage it?
The only problem we face is when it’s a beautiful, sunny day and we both want to sneak out and enjoy the weather when there’s work to be done. Not a bad problem to face!

Do you have any rules or boundaries that help you keep your business running smoothly while maintaining positive relationships with each other?
Early on we worked out what our strengths and weaknesses are and have learned to allocate workload accordingly in areas from accounts and admin, to designing and building. We try to stick to our strengths. Also, be understanding if one of you is having a bad day. Leave any business disagreements behind when it’s time to clock off.

Do you believe working together has strengthened your personal relationship?
Yes! For the business to be strong your communication also needs to be strong, so this flows into constant chatter about goals, dreams, problems. When couples only see each other a few hours a day, these conversations can often fall by the wayside.

How do you make time for each other with such similar schedules?
It’s really important to make time for each other and take a break from work. We like to go out for lunch away from the business, go for a walk and debrief, go out to a sail, surf, fish and generally just enjoy the outdoors with each other. 

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