I was coming off some very good years: several hit songs, touring with famous folks and making money through music. Julie and I were at a coffee shop and I was talking about my plan to go independent and start my own publishing company. Julie quickly volunteered that she’d like to be my song-plugger and work in the publishing biz with me. Without hesitation, I said yes and away we went. Like any business, the glamorous side of song publishing is small in proportion to the day-to-day nitty gritty, in-the-trenches detail and just plain unexciting work one has to do to succeed. No matter how hard I tried to make it seem as if Julie and I were equal partners, I was the one with the knowledge and experience in the music business. And so Julie felt like an employee, being constantly handed a to-do-list from her employer-husband. Uh oh….
I can’t quite remember how long Julie and I worked together with my publishing company, but we decided it was not the best thing for our marriage. A couple of years later Julie created a fantastic and successful business called The Wild Muffin. Guess what, we fell back into our married to business relationship, only in reverse. It was Julie’s business, but I had some skills she needed that I could offer gratis, as a spouse. Long story short; for the better part of eleven years, Julie and I have been working together in some fashion. All that changed recently when Julie sold her business. We’re very happy.
Working together hasn’t been all bad. Julie and I have a greater appreciation for each others’ unique skills and talents. We have a deep respect for each other, through our appreciation of competencies and successes we might not have been aware of if we hadn’t worked together. But ultimately for us, it wasn’t a great thing to do. On this we always agreed! We both come from a long line of family business owners. My parents created Abigail Kirsch Culinary Relationships and Julie’s parents created The Midtown Family Restaurant. I remember growing up – if we were all going out for a family dinner my mother would say to my father, “Bobby, I am not talking about the business at dinner.” That usually lasted about ten minutes, until after we’d all ordered!
Julie and I seem to do best together when we’re sharing only the business of family, that of being friends, lovers and parents. But I have friends who thrive in business relationships with their spouse. Do you work with a spouse or life partner? Do you have memories of growing up in a family business? I’d love for you to share your thoughts about family business. I hope you’ll comment below and add to the conversation!
What’s your experience with family business?
Have you worked in business with your spouse?
What’s good about it?
What’s bad about it?
Do you seek outside help to resolve conflicts when they arise?