Whether you work with your wife or husband, boyfriend or girlfriend, friend, or family member, you’ve really got to set it up for success. When you’re close to the person you work with day in and day out, personal emotions can sometimes cloud your business relationship.

But I’m here to tell you: it really is possible to work with someone you love. I’ve been working side by side with my husband Phil through two businesses, and we’ve managed to not only make it work but really enjoy partnering. Here’s how.

1. Don’t Be Shy About Being Businesslike

It can feel unnatural to ask your significant other to sign a business contract, but remember: at work, you’re wearing your entrepreneur hat, not your wife/girlfriend/friend/daughter hat. You can’t be shy about getting down to business. It’s not personal; it’s business, and you need to ensure that everything is done the way it would be if your partner were a complete stranger.

2. Identify One Another’s Strengths

I love writing content to help teach business owners how to incorporate a business. Phil is great at coming up with new products, like our cool DBA Name Search. We each have areas that we thrive in, and we try to draw lines around those duties so we don’t overlap or step on each other’s toes. He respects my ability to make decisions in my realm, as I do him.

3. Treat Them Like Everyone Else

If your entire staff is expected to come to the office by 8 am, hold your partner up to those same rules. You can’t show favoritism, or your staff will resent it. Like I said: this is business. It’s great that you have a personal relationship with this person, but it doesn’t get them any free passes in the office.

4. Find a Mediator for Sticky Situations

If you butt heads over a particular topic in your business, passions can rise and put the business in jeopardy. Find a neutral third party (either within your company or elsewhere) who can objectively listen to both sides and help bridge the gap in your communication. Having an unbiased party can often help you see the other person’s point of view and come up with a compromise that doesn’t leave one or both of you fuming.

5. Know When to Call it Quits

The fact is: not every personal relationship can survive a business partnership. Some people are simply better together outside of the office. If you’re dreading going to work with your partner, take a step back and assess the situation. Is it worth putting your personal relationship in danger, or would it be better to come to an amicable end in the business to save your personal relationship? Be open and honest about how you feel, since this is a difficult topic to cover.

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