My wife Megan and I both work in marketing. It's fun and makes dinner table conversation less awkward. We can talk about the intricacies of each other's days and be able to follow along pretty quickly.
When people learn that we both work in the same field, we are often asked if we'll ever start our own agency or consulting business, the response has always been a quick "no." We had not really talked about the topic all that much, just occasionally. Never listed a pros and cons list. It's been something we have inherently known we wouldn't embark on.
Then yesterday Jon Acuff wrote an article called "The day Jenny quit my company (or how to build a business and not get divorced)" that appeared to really hit the nail on the head. It prompted another conversation with Megan last night that, while you should never say never, it is highly unlikely that she and I would start an agency together.
That conversation also prompted Megan to suggest the idea "hey, I think this topic would be a great post for your blog." So here we are.
Why wouldn't we start our own joint business together?
We value our marriage too much
There are a lot of businesses that are husband and wife led that do quite well. We watch Chip and Jo Gaines fix up houses together on HGTV every weekend. We have friends who are currently building a company together called Jumpanzee (which you should check out BTW).
We recognize that it's doable.
We are also self-aware.
Building margin in anything is essential to do that thing well. This goes for work but also for your marriage. Having a business that we both run would take over our lives. There wouldn't be side conversations. Even with the best intentions, every date night would be consumed with talk about work and the business.
No matter how much you like something, you have to step away from it from time to time. I love Chick-fil-A but have been burnt out on it before. I love watching Parks and Rec but am currently taking a short break from watching it during midnight baby feedings. Even the best things need breaks.
Drawing boundaries between our marriage and our business would be difficult. This is also a lead in for one other reason.
We value our work/life balance
Having a kid changes your priorities a bit. We want to excel in our careers but also be able to be there for our daughter. She likely won't care about our jobs for a long time, if ever. All Campbell will know is if mommy and daddy hang out with her and help her. In his article, Jon Acuff writes:
"I’ve never met a 15-year-old who said, “I didn’t see my parents for the first 15 years of my life but I have a nice computer so it’s a pretty good trade off.”
We want to be there for our kids. Running our own company and being able to do that is plausible. But we don't want the demands of the business to overflow too much at home. It would be easier to let family stuff slide if it's under the same roof as our work. The lines could get blurry without intentional focus.
I think it would be easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we're spending quality time together at home...when that time is actually being spent focused on work and not each other.
Strategically, we're diversifying our assets
Just because we don't own our own company - or even work for the same company - doesn't mean we don't talk about work at home. We do. A lot. But I think both of us working at different places and having slightly different skill sets has helped both of us grow professionally.
Working at two different places all the time has helped us bring different perspectives home for the other to learn from. We've been able to bring complimentary skills and experiences to conversations and help each other out with challenges faced at work. Instead of being masters of all, we're able to share our areas of specialty expertise with each other to be more successful.
Whenever an employer hires one of us, it's like they're getting two brains for the price of one.
While our earning potential may be higher if we started our own business and grew it, we'd rather diversify our assets (aka skills). It's like going all in on a stock. You could go all in on a stock, win big and be incredibly lucrative. Or you could invest money in a decent index fun that still grows and matures but is diversified across several entities that provides a little more stability.
Diversifying helps us not confuse the success/failure of our business with the success/failure of our marriage.
I should never say never because years down the road circumstances could change and we go down a joint path of entrepreneurship. However, for now, I'd be shocked if we ever did.