Couples Who Work Together – The Copreneur Concept

Couples who work together - copreneur

I recently had a mini vacation from work; Friday, Monday and Tuesday off.  5 days in total.  It wasn’t enough time to really do anything substantial, but it was enough to get me thinking about spending all my time at home, and with Elijah.  Please don’t misconstrue, I’m not worried about our relationship but working at home will definitely change the dynamic of our journey up to this point and is yet another chapter of our lives together –  cue violins.

I’ve mentioned before that I tend to get looks and concerned comments when I tell people, especially the ones I’m related to, what our long term plan is.  A lot of the intrigue that’s generated around our business venture is the fact that we are both going to be at working at home together.  People seem so curious about how this is going to work out, as if watching a science experiment.  Here are my well thought out reasons why I want to work from home with Elijah:

  1. I won’t have to get up at a godforsaken hour in the morning
  2. I can wear my sweatpants to work, provided we are not leaving “the office”.
  3. We will be able to save some money, not having to worry about transportation expenses.
  4. I will have more time and energy to focus on other things I’m passionate about, like design and art.
  5. Elijah and I will learn and grow together in many ways.
  6. Down the road, when we have a family, we will be able to spend lots of time with our children.
  7. Our family will function as a sole unit.  Working, living and loving together.

I can tell you from experience that in today’s world of “each parent off to a separate place of employment” the family unit is broken down significantly.  For example, both my parents worked for the same company but in different positions, and in order to save money on a babysitter for my brother and I, my parents worked opposite shifts.  My mother worked from 6:00 am to 2:30 pm and my father worked from 4:00 pm until midnight.  Between the time my mom arrived from work and my dad was getting ready to leave, they had half an hour every day to see each other.  I couldn’t imagine only seeing Elijah for 2 1/2 hours each week.  Not to mention the fact that as children we barely got to spend time with our dad, except on weekends.  I would prefer not to reenact  this scenario with my own family, which is why I want to have my home and profession be of the same entity.

Let’s explore this concept shall we?

Its seems as though the concept of working from home or working with your partner is “new” or “trendy”, when in reality it’s the way the family unit functioned for most of our existence as humans.  Throughout history the family worked, and played together.  It was unheard of to leave your loved ones for any reason, let alone to work, and in any situation where productivity was essential for survival there was evidence of a family involvement.  Think about working on a farm where the family is an economic , as well as social unit.  It is only with the industrial revolution that home and workplace became a separate entity – each with it’s own set of guidelines and relationships.

Elijah and I have always felt that we “gelled” and worked exceptionally well together.  Every challenge or large project we’ve taken on in our relationship has been successful.  We’ve always been on the same page and it’s crucial to share the same passion or vision when attempting to go into business together, therefore maintaining focus on the bigger picture allows you get past all the smaller issues.

There are several guidelines available to working with your life partner from home.  At, Alicia Fortinberry has been working with her husband Bob, for almost 20 years.  Here is some of her experience sprinkled with my words of wisdom and interpretation:

  • Don’t separate work from the rest of your life.  It will never happen as smoothly as you want it to, so view the work as a continuum of the relationship.  If you share the passion, then it isn’t a burden.  Elijah and I talk about the business a lot and it’s as much a part of our family as our cat Shandy is.
  • Work with other people.  This makes so much sense to me.  Working with other people keeps the juices flowing and provides fresh ideas and a sense of support – as well as mental break from your loved one’s brain.
  • Maintain a nexus of friends outside of the core relationship.  This is so important, even in a non-work relationship.  One person cannot meet all your needs, no matter how great and supportive they are.  Women need the presence of women and men need the presence of men.  It is common these days that couples who work and live together fall into the trap of neglecting outside relationships, whether it is because of lack of time or trust.  Allowing the other to “step out” of the relationship and just be with friends or family is important at every stage in any relationship.
  • Explore and maintain shared beliefs.  In our society, as well as throughout history, common belief systems are the most significant bonding tools.  This is true in any single relationship, where if there is no basic agreement on core values and matters of faith, there is little chance of the relationship surviving.  Although this topic is not always on the forefront of the success of a relationship, it definitely plays and important part in the endurance of one.
  • Develop relationship rituals.  These are things that as a couple you do by agreement and awareness.  Going for breakfast every Sunday or going for a walk every evening are examples of rituals.  Don’t confuse these with habits.  Habits are things that are done without even consciously thinking about them.  Rituals renew your sense of togetherness and commitment to each other.  The breakfast date is one of the things that Elijah and I try to do as often as we can. Going to bed together at the same time is another one – although he usually gets up after I fall asleep to blog and brainstorm into the wee hours of the morning.
  • Work out mutually agreed roles.  This clear definition of responsibilities is necessary because it eliminates confusion and hostility.  Having clearly defined roles in the business and in the home life allows each partner to know what they are responsible for and what they have authority over.  As a couple, Elijah and I should try to figure out who is better qualified for each task, and then let eachother focus on it.  We’ve never been practitioners of gender based stereotypes and that won’t be starting when I eventually quit my job.  These roles shouldn’t be considered concrete either, they will change and shift as time moves on and life progresses, allowing us to complement each other when needed.  Balance.
  • It is also important to remember that while the roles and tasks are divided, there may be times when one person may have to work harder than the other.  This may result in anger or animosity, however it is the natural cycle of life.  Even at my day job there are times when I am much busier than my colleagues and I get jealous of their momentary freedom, but eventually it switches.
  • Be honest and concrete about what you need from each other.  It is never ideal to second guess what your partner wants or needs.   This again applies to all relationships.  You can’t expect him or her to decipher the code of facial expressions or subtle grunting noises.  Communication is so important in any relationship, business or personal, so never be forced into the position where manipulation is necessary to get what you want.  Communicate as clearly and as often as you need to.

This list definitely puts things into perspective for me.  This new venture is not going to be all butterflies and roses – it’s going to be something that we have to work very hard at.  I have a couple of points that I would like to add to this list that I’ve picked up along the way:

After working at a residential summer camp in many different positions, and for many years, I learned that there’s no time for laying blame when things go wrong.  Shit happens and there is not much you can do about it except find a reasonable solution as soon as possible.  Here’s and example of what I mean:

Task: Sixteen kids all waiting to go on a canoe trip.
Problem: The canoes floated away after not being tied up correctly.
Solution: Quickly organized a beach day with games and swimming.

When it comes to kids quick thinking is mandatory, and with business I think it works the same way.  The more responsibilities and tasks we add to each others roles, the more problem solving is going to be required.  Better to get good at it now instead of when things are much busier.

I also think it’s incredibly important to keep having fun with each other.  This is the reason that our main goal with the online business is to be mobile and travel.  I’m so excited to experience new things and explore places I’ve never been, and even more excited to do it all with the man I love.  Eliminating the staleness of the day-in- day-out will keep the relationship fresh and vibrant.  Even if travel is not possible immediately, trying new restaurants, or exploring a part of your city that you’ve never seen together will be something you’re sharing that’s not related to work.

I recently came across the term used for defining what Elijah and I, and many of you are attempting;  Copreneurs.  It is used to categorize couples who are exploring entrepreneurial paths together as a team.  I like this term because it highlights the fact that we are a team – which is something Elijah and I have always thought of ourselves as.  Our successes are so much more rewarding because we are able to appreciate them together, and realize that we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for each other.  If one of us succeeds, we both succeed.

We’re on our way to starting this journey together, and there will definitely be highs and lows – but I think if we can keep focused on our goals, and each other, this will be the smartest thing we’ve ever done.  So here’s to practicing what we preach.

Stay classy,


15 thoughts on “Couples Who Work Together – The Copreneur Concept”

  1. You know, a lot of this is good advice for nurturing a relationship overall. I won’t be working with the hubby when I quit my day job, but I’m sure some days it will feel like it because he only works part time.

    “Shit happens and there is not much you can do about it except find a reasonable solution as soon as possible.” This is something that the people I work with need to learn. Everybody always has to be a drama king or queen when something goes wrong instead of trying to find a solution.

    Bcarters last blog post..Get Paid to Search with Scour

  2. Great advice in this post. I prefer the term couplepreneurs for life partners who co-own a business. The term copreneurs can refer to any related partners in a family business. Life partners need to always remember that their connection as a couple comes before their business partnership. I have learned this from 20+ years of my own couplepreneurship as well as coaching and interviewing scores of successful couplepreneurs. Good luck with your venture and I am rooting for you!

  3. @Bcarter – Thanks for dropping in . . . I feel like people usually act like a drama king or queen when things go wrong because it’s easier then coming up with a solution. Accept what you can’t change and find a way to change what you can.

    @Jean – Very good point, thanks! Although, couplepreneur is a little trickier for me to say. . .

    I really appreciate you commenting, hopefully we’re in the right mindset BEFORE we start down this road. This is definitely a topic I am going to continue exploring, because I am determined to make sure that Elijah and I stay successful as a couple first. Your blog is a wealth of information! 🙂

    Veronicas last blog post..Blog Report For August 2008

  4. My husband and I work together at a day job. While it’s fun to shock co-workers that we can work happily together as well as live happily together, our career goals are not the same. Hopefully I’ll be the work-at-home, while he continues in his career or launches his preferred at home biz (designing board games).

    Best of luck!

    WordVixens last blog post..I Can See The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

  5. Good stuff V! I love what you two are doing and I think this articles sums it up pretty well. You touched on some key points, one of which…having external communication, I think is key, even moreso for those working at home together.

    It will be fun to watch you and E grow in this thing….I’ll be right there rooting for ya!

    Normal Joes last blog post..Back At It With The Update

  6. @WordVixen – I’m sure that Elijah and I will eventually go down different paths as time moves on, but we will always be involved in the what we’ve started together. I plan to have my own blogging network, but design oriented. Non the less, we’re still going to be together all the time . . . supporting each other. Sounds like you and your husband are the same way.

    @Normal Joe – Thanks! I think that most of these points are valid in all relationships. We just have to be more conscious of them now.

    It will be fun to learn and grow . . . it’ll be even funner (yeah, that’s right, I said “funner”) when I can focus on this full time! 😉

    Thanks for your support!

    Veronicas last blog post..How The Rich Stay Rich: An Internet Marketing Reality Check

  7. My wife and I have worked together for years – at times full-time, at present part-time. These days I have a “day job” while she pursues a writing career and I help her after hours. It’s definitely become a lot harder since we started a family though – for some reason babies and toddlers don’t keep regular office hours!
    But, the same as you, we find we complement each others’ skills well, which is probably what attracted us to each other in the first place.

    Rods last blog post..Where’s the StumbleUpon buzz on your site?

  8. what are special preparetion couples make before becoming co-preneur? pz answer i relly need help.

  9. Congratulations! You are well on your way to an exciting journey together. It looks like you’ve done your research on the copreneur lifestyle.

    My husband, Brett, and I have been “copreneuring” for 5 1/2 years. It has its ups and downs, of course, but is well worth it when we consider the alternative of going to separate places. We also just had our first child. It is great not having to deal with day care.

    Might I invite you and your readers to check out the organization that we launched last year, the National Copreneur Society. I see that you’re in Toronto, so we might have to make our organization INTERNATIONAL!

    Take care and best of luck!

    Leila Johnsons last blog post..Happy New Year & Membership Drive!

  10. This is such an inspirational post, thank you so much!

    You list is great – I can really identify with your situation, although mine is slightly different, as I don’t work with a partner but with my brother who also happens to be my best friends. A lot of the points you mention also apply to our situation, esp. since we share an apartment and spend almost 24/7 together. It is a fantastic experience to work with someone who shares your visions and values and who is incredibly close to you on a personal level. This shared experience brings with it a closeness that nobody can understand who hasn’t tried it. Of course there are downsides too but for me there is no question that the positives outweigh the negatives.

    I will have to keep checking back to see how things are going for the two of you now – am very curious 🙂
    I wish you all the best and good luck for your personal and professional future together!

  11. Love This post… I think the idea of you and Eli working together at home is Amazing. I Would love to work at home but my job does not require me to stay home and work. Life would be so much easier to work at home.. I’m actually Jealous!!!! lol

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