Paper Laundry

Musings From the Washroom

The misadventures of two creatives starting a small business.

The Marriage of Business

I’ve had plenty of work “marriages.” You know, where you’re with someone so much you can finish each other’s sentences, order for them at a restaurant, possibly even know more about their real-life significant other than you care to. So yeah, been there. Then, a little over a year ago, I got seriously work married. We signed contracts. We told the government. We even celebrated with champagne. It got real.

Being in a legally-binding partnership, like marriage, isn’t something you take lightly. You have to make sure the person is someone who gets you, whom you trust, and someone you’re willing to get through the tough times with. It also needs to be someone who makes your work stronger and brings skills to the table that up your game.

Like any relationship, your partnership is something outsiders, well, judge you by. Clients may see your interactions and base part of their decision to work with you on it. That means a healthy work relationship is crucial to how you are perceived and how you operate. So what makes a healthy relationship? It’s exactly what you think.

Forbes wrote an article in 2012, the Top Three Qualities of a Successful Business Partnership, that stands true today.

  1. Trust

  2. Compatible Communication Styles

  3. Complementary Skills

No surprises there. The thing to remember is that if you work on even one of these areas, it helps the other areas to fall into place as well. When you trust someone, you’re better able to communicate with them. When you have complimentary communication styles, you trust you’ll understand each other’s capabilities. You see where I’m going with this.

Another smart move is to figure out what your personality types are. No, I’m not telling you to go do a Cosmo quiz (but I’m not, NOT telling you that either). We’d recommend the Enneagram test because it was recommended to us and it is amazing. Seriously, it has changed the way we react to each other and helped us see what our strengths are. When we’re doing what we’re strongest at, the whole company does better.

Work marriages are a big commitment but, with dedication and caring, you can make it one that lasts. And one that benefits you personally and professionally. Just don’t forget your anniversary.