Starting a business with your husband: the do's & don'ts
No matter how loved up you are, the idea of working with your husband may have you running for the hills.
For some, it might be a disaster waiting to happen, but for Ben and Kate Cashman, co- founders of Tinkle Co, launching a business together has been a dream come true.
In light of Keep Australia Beautiful Week, Kate Cashman, co-founder of Tinkle Co, shares her top do's and don’ts for starting a business with your husband.
Have set roles: One of the things we were really careful about was dividing up the roles in the business, so we had ownership over a particular space. We learned very quickly that when we didn't, things would get really messy. For example, I manage a lot of our customer focused interaction but Ben manages the website and supplier relationships – we bounce ideas off each other but ultimately try to stay in our own lanes
Set boundaries: When you work for yourself, boundaries are really important. But when you work with your spouse, boundaries are essential. You need to know where business ends and where your relationship begins. We dealt with this by designating times of the day (usually evenings after the kids’ bedtime) to talk about the business. This helped us focus on growing the business at certain times, then being a family at others. You can’t be all things all hours of the day – if you try you’ll just burn out too quickly
Dream big: In addition to our regular business catch ups, we wanted to make things fun so we implemented ‘strategy nights’ where we used human centred design brainstorming techniques and dared to dream as big as we could – really blue sky thinking where no idea was too crazy.
Get the kids involved! The idea for our toothbrush’s flat-based design was originally sparked by our then 6-year old, Spencer. For us, getting the kids involved in the decision making for Tinkle has made this business so much fun. If you have kids, get their input on the little things – the colours, the names, the designs. Kids have a really unique perspective that can genuinely add a lot of value. But most importantly, they’re learning invaluable business lessons and it brings us closer together as a family
Do everything together: You really have to know your strengths and do what you’re good at. We each have our own zones of genius and it's best to stick to them. For example, I’m better at writing emails, social media captions and communicating with customers whereas Ben is a whizz with technology and programs that make our business lives easier.
Just go with the flow: This is true for any business – you can’t just travel along without a plan, cross your fingers and hope for the best. It’s important to have a full business plan for your business; but with your spouse, you also need to be really clear about your long term expectations - if one of you goes into it thinking it will always be your side hustle and the other expects to quit their day job within six months, that’s just setting yourselves up for disaster. You need to set a clear plan and stick to it, and communicate clearly if and when you want those plans to change
Compromise your values: The reason we started Tinkle in the first place was because we’re genuinely passionate about reducing our family’s plastic waste, so creating a sustainable toothbrush subscription was a natural fit. So this had to extend to our compostable mail satchels and the decision to give back some of our profits to the community – decisions that might not make the most financial sense for a start up, but if they don’t feel true to your core they’re just not going to make you feel happy
Let it take over: We love our business, but we love our family more. So we’ve agreed that if it ever comes to a point where the business is taking over our lives and we need to pull back, then that is what we have committed to do. We don't want it to rule us. We were husband and wife before we were co-founders, so while we’ll do everything to make this business reach its full potential, it can’t be to the detriment of our family.