Business Roles: Who Should Do What When You're Co-preneurs?

Finding clarity around business roles is one of the many unique challenges faced by couples in business.

Business Coaching Insight:

If a partner is performing tasks they don't enjoy or aren't skilled at, make sure you have an exit plan in place

In an ideal world everybody should be performing business roles that match their different types of personality, skills and interests but when you're running a small business together, partners often tend to 'muck in' and just do whatever needs doing.

Mismatching people and business roles

Mismatching roles with individual personalities and skills is often a cause of friction.

It tends to happen more often with couples in business because there's a sense that this is 'our’ business so each partner feels a duty to undertake whatever jobs aren’t being done by the other ie. they fill in for each other.

This may seem like a sensible strategy initially but over time it builds resentment if people aren't doing roles that they love to do.

A very common scenario with couples is when the business revolves around one of the partner’s technical expertise. For example, the husband may be a mechanic, and since the family's livelihood depends on the business his wife may end up helping out by taking care of the administration or bookkeeping.

If she happens to enjoy these business roles and has previous experience that makes her well-suited to doing them, no problem.

However, very often the wife may really be harboring a desire to do something more creative or people-focused, in which case, she may begin to resent these tasks and ultimately resent her husband and the business too.

If you keep doing jobs you don't like or you're not skilled it causes you to lose confidence in yourself and tolerating it for the sake of the family won't make you happy.

It is in the best interests of the business to have everybody in roles that they enjoy and are suited to.

Finding which roles you're suited to

Once your business is well established and is making a profit it's time to reassess the roles in your business and whether they are allocated to the best people.

Even if there's only two of you, create an organization chart so you can easily see what business roles need performing and what you'll need to recruit for in future. You may also need to look forward and think about how your business will look with 20+ employees and what roles they would be performing.

Then consider this question:

If you were to apply for a job what sort of job would it be? To answer this question consider:

  • What you like doing
  • What skills you already have
  • What knowledge and experience you have
  • What sort of personality you have and how this relates to work life
  • What hours you want to work

Matching skills and roles

Hopefully by going through this process you'll see a better fit in terms of who should be performing which role.

You can now position yourself to only do the jobs that you want to do or are technically experienced in (and may be hard to replace in the short term).

Many business coaches offer personality testing to help you to understand more about what roles you would be suited to.

Roles that aren't suited to either of you

The jobs that you dislike and are not skilled at should be outsourced to other people. Whilst this may not be possible initially you will be more motivated to know that you are working towards a business that fulfills both of you on personal and professional levels.

So, for couples in business it's especially important to create a plan early on in the business relationship that sees both of you fulfilled and rewarded for your efforts. That way you can keep satisfaction and fulfillment in your business and your relationship.

Who should be the boss?

In those scenarios where a couple share the business equally together, the question of who should be the CEO often comes up. Can they be joint CEO's?

Realistically it is better if the business has one CEO. Even though you both have a significant influence on the business it creates greater clarity for your employees if they know who is the ultimate decision-maker.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • Are you both fulfilled in your current roles?
  • What roles are not being performed as well as they could be in your business?
  • What tasks could be outsourced?

Return from business roles to successful copreneurs

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