We hear it all the time… “It must be so amazing to be able to work together!” That or we hear, “I have no idea how you do it, I could never work with my husband/wife. They would drive me crazy”. It has become a super common thing that comes up during weddings or family sessions.
The truth of it is that it’s both of those. It is amazing and there are days where we don’t know how we’re going to do it. It’s also one of those things that needs constant work because things change. Patience and I have gone through several different phases of our business where we did different things and sometimes it didn’t work out very well but we kept working at it. We kept adjusting and learning because that’s what it takes to find success.
A few weeks ago we were asked this question by Cicely from Rusted Van Photography…
“How do you balance your own creative and artistic vision while maintaining a brand and cohesive look? My husband and I are still trying to find a way to both play an active role in our business, but it’s a challenge! We both love to shoot, and we both enjoy editing – so, we are finding that we end up tripping all over one another and we aren’t sure who should be doing what. Sometimes I think this leads to one of us overstepping the other and one always feels artistically “slighted”.”
It really got us thinking about how we got to where we are now and what we went through to figure this question out for ourselves. A lot of it was trial and error and a lot of it was not giving up when we were discouraged about our place in the business. Patience used to ask me after sessions, “What is my role in the business? I don’t feel like I’m contributing anything to the shoots we are doing.” That is a really tough thing to deal with because we both need to be involved for this whole thing to work and it took some pretty serious growing pains to get to a point where we are both pretty comfortable and confident in the part we play to make what everyone knows as “Joe and Patience”.
After several years of going around and around about the whole business role thing we finally sat down with a pad of paper and a pencil and went through every single part of our business we could think of. Once we had all of the tasks and workflow steps listed we started assigning them to the person who we felt was the strongest at completing those tasks at the time. This is going to be the point where you need to let go of your pride and be honest with yourself and your spouse. These assignments are business related and are not meant to be taken personally. If you have never done this I want you to say this to yourself out loud. “These assignments are are for the good of our business and I will not take it personally.” This is really, really important and like Patience and I, it may need to be saved for a time when you’re in the right mental state to take some criticism in the form of being taken off of doing certain tasks that you enjoy doing.
I completely understand that it may be pretty difficult to release some control but it will be a really good thing. By doing this you’ll avoid the constant stepping on each other’s feet that we experienced in the first couple of years being in business together. You’ll avoid sending nearly duplicate emails to the same client, paying your bills twice and ordering your client’s products twice as well. Yep, we’ve done all of those and more. This will literally save you money in the long run and it will help you to avoid embarrassing situations with your clients. It’s 100% worth the time and potential of temporarily damaged pride to get it done sooner rather than later.
The most important thing to remember is that you and your spouse have a common goal with your business. Maybe you’re trying to get to the point of leaving a 9-5 or you’re doing it on the side to be able to pay for vacations with your family. Either way, it doesn’t matter, there is still a common goal and it’s worth taking the time to figure this out.
So, grab some paper, a pencil because you’re probably going to want to erase some stuff and sit down together without any distractions. Make sure you’re both emotionally ready to dig deep and start writing. You’re going to want to make a list of every single thing that gets handled in your business. Client communication, bills being paid, scheduling, who does what at every type of session you may shoot if you’re a photographer, etc. Once you have all of those things listed you’ll need to go through each task and talk about it. Some of them might be really easy while some of them might be a bit more difficult. Just remember to be open, honest and that there is a common goal.
Next week we’re going to go through our list of tasks and explain why we have assigned specific things to each of us.
Thanks for taking the time to read and like always, we’re more than happy to answer questions you might have. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Whoa! It looks like this thing is becoming a whole series! Check out the previous posts here.
Photos of our 10 year vow renewal by the amazing Jonathan Canlas!