Partnering Up: Mixing Professional & Personal Business
In entertainment, you often hear the old adage to never work with animals or children. In real estate, what’s the deal when you go into business with family? Or your significant other? Is it all cheers, or steer clear?
Kathleen Luck had been working in real estate for a decade when her third assistant in as many years decided to leave. After spending close to 12 months training each assistant, only to see them ultimately move on, it a case of three strikes…and you know the rest. “I just don’t know if I can do it again,” she confessed to her husband Stephen, who was working in civil construction; a job that saw him investing around 70-80 hours a week into. “Well, what if I join you?” he asked.
Three years later and the pair now head up a highly successful partnership in real estate. Kathleen handles prospecting and negotiations while Stephen manages the footwork – open homes, inspections and overseeing the office. They’ve found a formula that works perfectly for them. And Kathleen says she’s never had more fun in real estate than she does now. So, what does it take to make a personal relationship work as a business partnership?
Kathleen says they first tried setting ground rules around when they could and couldn’t discuss work but, paradoxically, that made life more stressful. When work-talk was banned, they’d take notes of things they wanted to say so they wouldn’t forget to raise them later. This turned out to be more of a struggle than just discussing it then and there. The solution? They opted to put aside small moments to spend together. “Little moments in the day, moments in the week, and then bigger moments in the month we try to organise things that aren’t work related,” Kathleen explains. “Because that was my main concern – that it would become all work and no husband.”
Kathleen and Stephen didn’t go in unprepared with fingers crossed everything would work itself out. Proactively, they sought out professional advice to ensure their partnership – both in business and at home – would flourish. They consulted a psychologist to help each other understand their strengths and weaknesses and how they communicate together. “We reflect back a lot to the advice that we were given,” Kathleen tells. “I’ve developed a deeper understanding of how Stephen processes things and vice versa, so it really helps us both stay on track and in line to that end goal.”
Another piece of advice that’s proved golden is to do whatever it takes to reserve energy for after work. After all, it’s important you can still be present with each other after hours rather than hitting the couch, turning on the tele and zoning out for the night. “It’s a seven-day-a-week job, and when there are so many energies consuming you all the time, it’s really important to keep reserves for each other,” she adds.
While finding and maintaining that balance mightn’t have always been easy, Kathleen says it’s well worth it. “It’s wonderful to come home at the end of the day when we got a deal together, a listing that we were so excited about or something we’ve been working on for a year, and we come home and run at each other and chest bump and shout YEAH!” she laughs. “It’s just so much fun to be able to have someone to share those successes with, it’s great.”
Of course, going into business with your significant other has its pros and cons. Admittedly, it’s not everyone but for those interested in the idea, be sure to properly prepare and have as open communication as possible. As Kathleen and Stephen are proving, you don’t need strict guidelines around when you’re allowed to talk shop and when you’re after hours. You just need to find the ideal balance that works best for you.