Looking beyond home chores, dropping of my kid at school and planning vacations together, I didn’t realize early; other underlying strengths in my partner beyond the ones I saw at home.
Pearl is an accountant, a strong sales person and a superb caterer. All this came to the fore when we decided it was time to boost our income by adding a little extra with our hands.
The recession in the country also compelled us to review out living standards to accommodate our income at the time. We had to change apartments, reduce our energy costs, cut down on TV and internet subscriptions. All that had to change considerably.
After graduating from baking college, Pearl made her first muffin that really got my friends and family talking to the extent that my neighbour’s kids sniffed off the whiff escaping from the oven through the kitchen window. The kids giggling downstairs hoping to get her attention and in turn get a bit of her freshly baked muffin. However, she noticed what they were up to and offered them some afterwards.
You may call this a publicity stunt but honestly she really pulled out something great from what used to be crude inside her and yet untapped.
“Your muffin tastes really good and It’s just the beginning” was what I exclaimed when I return from work that evening as she told me about her gesture with the kids. Today she excels well in her pastries and other related things she does.
I missed inviting her earlier to get involved in our energy servicing business. I probably thought I could take on daily challenges from operations to sales, book keeping and managing customer relationships considering the industry.
I managed to cope with the hassles earlier on after the commencement of our business which was four months prior to the birth of our first son. So I knew there was no way she could join me in running the business as she needed to focus on nursing.
Today she’s gone past that phase and she’s ready to run, her energy level has returned and is set to be deployed. Few months back, we had to halt operations on our business owing to sudden surge in price, foreign exchange and defaulting customers. This was not an easy decision to make as I thought this was not a good idea. “How can we stop, how do we cope, how do we settle our obligations?” All these questions popped up in my mind.
We had to think through the cumulative running costs and finally resolved to hold on to really get more clarification on market trend as prices of products surged further.
Many other small businesses shut down at the time as overheads rose beyond their capacity to cope. For instance, one of our customer’s; a table water bottling company somewhere in the suburbs of Lagos had to lay off entire work force resolving to reopen only when production costs drop by 60%.
After a month of recess, we reopened our business after reconsidering these three factors-
- Intensify efforts to recover pending payments from defaulting customers.
- Henceforth, cash on delivery payment.
- Tighten operational leakages.
The implication of these changes made us more cautious in trading. This new policy readdressed rapid sales and turnover by volume. Safety of funds was vital considering recession times where customers’ default rate is high like we’ve experienced.
Taking Pearl along have knitted us closely even if we occasionally had disagreements on who’s to print customer invoices to other complex business decisions.
Her support in business relieved me of a lot of pressure not having to juggle a day job and a business at the same time. At times I wonder what I was thinking; not bringing her in earlier.
She manages the finances well and offers great support even when I least expect. When looking for a partner or co-founder in your start-up, introducing your spouse wouldn’t be a bad idea. You also need to discern when to introduce your partner as moving too early or late may be counterproductive.
Watch out for these signs to know when to get your spouse involved –
#1 – A willing heart.
#2 – Your spouse’s openness to learning the fundamentals.
#3 – Your spouse has the time to invest.
Steps to introduce your spouse –
#1 – Start with lesser tasks and progress gradually.
#2 – Introduce responsibilities and encourage him/her to do it.
#3 – Supervise your partner’s affairs and amend where necessary.
#4 – Emphasize accountability and follow through to keep your partner committed.
#5 – Motivate and reward your spouse accordingly.
Involving your spouse has enormous benefits from nurturing a stronger bond between spouses to preparing your business for the next generation.