Running a successful business with your soul mate may seem like an idyllic dream. You are together all the time and can determine your mutual career destinies instead of spending many hours apart working for someone else.
You get to build a meaningful life together by doing what you both love and co-creating something that brings you joy and fulfillment.
But if you’re not mindful of the challenges that come with being business partners, this dream can easily turn into a nightmare that ruins your business and tarnishes your relationship. These four “rules of engagement” will help you work more cohesively.
1. Get on the same page.
Every successful business needs a solid business plan, however, it is especially important for business co-founders to create and agree on a plan together. This plan must include a joint vision of what the company will do, how it will do it and for whom (i.e., the target audience or customers).
Because couples share a level of intimacy and interdependence that transcends both business partnership and friendship, they must define their shared vision of how their business integrates with the rest of their life together. A clear business plan will help you do that.
2. Define your roles and responsibilities.
A significant advantage of having an equal business partner versus being a solopreneur is that you can compensate for each other’s knowledge and skill gaps while leveraging your respective strengths. But because the lines between business and personal often get blurred in romantic/business partnerships, it is especially important for couples to divide their business responsibilities and define who is going to do what. Write those roles into your business plan, and stick to what you do best.
3. Maintain work-life (and love) balance.
Couples who work separately and spend a good chunk of their lives on the job often struggle to strike a work-life balance. Romantic business partners face work-life challenges as well, though in somewhat different ways, and may discover that their business decisions can either reinforce their love for one another or wreck the relationship completely.
The key to success is finding out what works best for you both as individuals and a couple. Experiment by setting and testing boundaries around when you work and play, and when it’s okay to do both.
4. Be kind, understanding, and respectful.
Being an entrepreneur and being in a romantic relationship share a common trait: they both present challenges that reveal who we really are. Running a business with your significant other compounds the stakes because your personal and professional relationships are so intertwined that they are bound to collide, perhaps daily.
The only way to thrive in business as a couple is to respect each other as individuals, even if you don’t agree on everything. The more peacefully and politely you resolve the inevitable conflicts, the happier and more successful you’ll be, both together and individually.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.