In 2014 London couple Tiago Felix and Petru van der Walt discovered a small artisan leather workshop in rural Portugal while on holiday and commissioned two handbags to their own unique design. They were so inspired they launched their own company called CRU, which today offers a range of beautifully designed handbags for sale through their website. Running a start up is a challenge in itself and working with a partner adds in another dimension. Here are Tiago and Petru's tips for couples working together:
This is a golden rule for running a business as a couple. While it's natural to strive towards success quickly, allow yourself and your partner time to grow and develop. Rather than questioning 'why' a new strategy isn't working instantly, give it time to mature and try not to conclude it will fail.
This is critical to avoid disappointment or misunderstandings between each other. Agree distinct and measurable objectives and time frames and be clear on what results both partners are expecting. Are they realistic or do they need a rethink? It's better to question things early on, than be disappointed later.
Support each other
Any start up founder may lose enthusiasm or momentum and this is where you can support each other, acting as a driving force for both, keeping the flame alive, not only in your relationship, but within your business.
Play to your strengths
Split work according to key strengths. At CRU, Petru is more of a creative dreamer, who looks after the design process and maintains social media, while Tiago is better suited to keeping CRU on track by meeting set objectives, improving sales and managing Google Analytics.
Don't let business take over your life
Start up founders who are together in business and love can find it difficult to switch off at the end of the day and are bound to 'bring work home' sometimes. Tiago and Petru handle this in a light-hearted way, e.g. the first to talk business after 7pm, does the washing up that night.
Agree how to disagree
To avoid protracted arguments, the final say should lie with the person who is strongest in that area. Tiago and Petru discuss key decisions, but with any disagreement, they'll give the final decision to the person best placed to make an informed decision, e.g. Design: Petru. Google Analytics & SEO: Tiago.
Room to breathe
Create breathing space for each other, especially if working in a small office: schedule external meetings to get a change of scenery and time apart. As the business grows it will become easier, however it will still be important to have some time away from each other during the working day.
To avoid steering off course, have regular checkpoint meetings to ensure each of you remain on course and to avoid misunderstandings later.
Show Your Appreciation
Be sure to acknowledge the work each partner is putting into the business and show your appreciation. This is even more important than with co-workers that you leave behind at the end of the day. Don't simply assume that the other knows what you've been doing because they have been copied into an email; acknowledge it later on.
Ask for help
Don't be too proud to admit your weaknesses, which could put the business and your partner's hard work in jeopardy as a result. Ask for help if you need it, e.g. if the creative writer runs out of ideas, leave it to the solution driven partner to come up with tip no.10!
CRU handbags are available for sale through www.cru.london