By Co-Founder of Larsen Jewellery, Susie Larsen
When the opportunity arose to start a jewellery business with my husband Lars over 11 years ago, we jumped at the chance. Investing all our savings into our first Larsen Jewellery store was a huge risk, but the idea of owning our own business was something we had been dreaming of for years.
None of it came easy. It has been a huge commitment to building Larsen Jewellery from the ground up, but having Lars alongside me has made it that much more rewarding. Whenever I tell people I work with my husband they often laugh, shake their head in bewilderment, and say, “you know you should never mix business with pleasure”. As in life, it’s not always smooth sailing, but for us, the benefits greatly outweigh any drawbacks.
So here are my top tips for when you’re (literally!) married to your work.
Maintain your individuality
When you’re spending so much time with your partner it’s often easy to lose yourself. I can’t tell you enough just how important it is to spend quality time alone. Whatever it is – getting cosy on the couch with a cup of tea, or going to the gym and sweating it out – it’s important. We both know we need to take time to pursue our own hobbies and passions. Being a working mother, it’s easy to get lost and put others’ needs before your own. But if you can take just an hour three times a week for ‘you time’, you’ll see amazing benefits in your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Leave the work at the door
Having a work/life balance is important to everyone. But when you’re working with your partner, it’s often hard to distinguish them from each other. Lars and I made a promise early on that we would never bring work problems home with us (or vice versa). If I forgot to fax through papers we would only discuss it at work, and not bring it into the home environment. Likewise, if he didn’t do something I had asked at home, I wouldn’t criticize him at work for it. Having this work/life differentiation means we can switch off at the end of the day, spend time with the family, and have quality time with each other. I find these boundaries mean our communication is more open, and we have greater respect for each other’s skills and talents.
Compromise, compromise, compromise
You’re going to have different standards and expectations when it comes to working. It’s important to be understanding of your partner’s needs – perhaps they need an extra five minutes to read over their emails, or maybe they work best when their desk is a form of what you see as organised chaos! Compromising is key and is pivotal to the success of the business. Whenever an issue arises with Lars and me, we agree to talk about it in a calm and balanced manner. Remember you’re not in competition with one another: you’re working as a team for the best possible outcome for the business.
Recognise each other’s strengths
Lars and I come from different career backgrounds, which has proved to be one of our biggest strengths as co-owners. It’s important to recognise the unique skills that each person brings to the table in a business, and then work to encourage and develop these. This helps to segment tasks, meaning that you and your partner can do the work each of you excels at. In the end, this is what will allow you to succeed as a team.