Does your partner view the business as “our baby” or do they see it as “your mistress”?

The answer helps to show how a spouse feels about your business, including the level of commitment they have.

“In this context, I think that a ’mistress’ separates you—it becomes more important to you than your relationship with each other. And when I think about a ‘baby,’ I think about how a baby unites you, and you have a common goal,” says Margie Blanchard, Ph.D, an accomplished management consultant and trainer, a best-selling author, entrepreneur, and a motivational speaker. “The idea of a ‘mistress’ is where the work becomes more important than your marriage, or you become disrespectful of one another,” she adds when asked about the above statement.

Margie is Co-owner of The Ken Blanchard Companies®, founded in 1979 with her husband Ken Blanchard. The Ken Blanchard Companies is one of the premier management consulting and training companies in the world.

In this four-part series, we sat down with Margie to ask her some of her top tips and practical advice for overcoming the common challenges that spouses have when working on a business together. Here are the time-tested approaches you can use to help ensure that working alongside your spouse is a positive, rewarding experience.

Define Your Purpose for Working Together

To start, Margie says it’s important to come together, share, and define why you want to be in business together.

“One of the things that people sometimes forget is why are they doing this in the first place. What’s their vision for working together or starting a company together? Or, what is the vision if one spouse has run into some success and needs some additional help?” she says. “One of the biggest things that you need to remember is the ‘why.’”

For Margie and Ken, they had so many ideas for how to run a business that they wanted to be able to put those ideas into practice in order to learn and grow from it themselves. “We actually got smarter and smarter both through our failures and through our successes and we were able to help our clients more as we grew the business.”

Know Your Shared Expectations & Vision

“[If] somebody has found a successful business, that’s a miracle in itself,” points out Margie. “They found something that’s selling, that customers want, and they need help, and they’re considering getting their spouse involved because they need that help,” Margie says.

In this kind of scenario, always start by looking at how you both get along, in general, and dig deeper to see the real motivation, expectations, and vision with a spouse becoming involved.

When inevitable stress hits, re-visiting the “why” can help the relationship you have with your partner and it can help the business. “If we could remember the why—that it was going to help us not only as a couple, but also as a business, to be more helpful to our clients—then we could excuse a lot of mistakes and really put some stressful times into perspective.”

Create Your Personal Vision

Have you taken the time to explore or update your personal values and vision? After all, these are the crucial principles that guide your business philosophy, your decision-making process, and practically everything else that you do, including how you interact with your family. Download Aileron’s Personal Vision worksheet to clarify and define your personal vision so you can ensure your life goals drive your business—and not the other way around.