We get asked the same sorts of questions all the time, either by clients or even by our friends, when it comes to our work setup. Most often we hear “How do you both work together?” usually mixed with “What does Mike do in your business?”
The answers to both questions are a bit more long winded than I think most people are expecting to hear. Even now I find it really difficult to write concisely about all that Mike contributes to this business of mine.
The truth is, we do basically everything together. Work just happens to be a part of that. And what does Mike do in my business? Where do I even start…
If you or your partner own a business you probably are all too familiar with the support that is needed in order to get a business off the ground. If you aren’t familiar, I’ll just fill you in: It’s a LOT.
Mike and I have been together 7.5 years, moved in together 5.5 years ago, and now have been married for 2.5 years. Summers tend to important anniversaries around here haha. The summer we moved in together was the summer that I launched Sweet Horizon Studio and officially started working from home full time. Talk about a transition: living with a significant other for the first time and starting a new business venture all in the same month. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.
Almost 6 years later, I can say that we survived it but I won’t make it out like it was always a walk in the park. Mike has literally been a part of this since the beginning and I always joke that he never asked to learn photography, web design, or any of it, and yet he’s just been brought along for the ride.
To be honest, I don’t think either us really knew what it would be like when I decided to start my own business. I suppose you always have a vague idea what the possibilities are but it’s a totally different ball game to be figuring it out as you go. So many evenings of that first year were spent trying to get his help with photos, content, coding issues, and talking through everything once he was home from work. He was probably exhausted from his own job but he was always ready to help me as soon as he got home.
He and I talk a lot about it now, that when we both look back on that time in our first apartment, it’s so obvious that we’ve learned so damn much. What we know now about coding, processes, presenting, running a business, you name it, makes those early projects seem almost silly in comparison. I used to panic and stress over things that seem second nature and that we do every day now. Let this be a reminder to you that we all start somewhere.
We’ve also learned so much about each other and how we both feel most productive and encouraged. Working together teaches you a lot about yourself and about your spouse.
Through The Years
As the years have gone on our work has evolved quite a bit as well.
I had daydreamed about being able to code custom websites for my clients almost as soon as I started my business. It felt like an uphill battle since best coding practices seem to change every few months and things had changed a LOT since I was taught to code HTML from scratch in college. But Mike was always up for the challenge. We started by using the Genesis framework for our sites and then, a few years in, dropped that so we could code completely from scratch for our clients.
Even though I had a degree in design, and felt pretty confident in being able to present to my clients, there was still so much about business that I didn’t know. I had to learn how market myself in a way that felt authentic and natural to me. I had to learn how to create content that would educate and help my ideal clients. I had to learn how to handle sales calls, send proposals and on-board clients. I had to learn that presenting concepts to clients is not a one-size-fits-all situation and that my process needs to be flexible enough to adapt to what each client needs. I had to learn how to stand up for myself, charge what my time was worth, and make sure I was paid on time for the work that I did. And Mike has been there to talk through all of it.
We’ve basically had to figure all this out on our own but, at this point, I literally can’t imagine having done any of this alone.
Working Together Today
Now our work day looks a lot different than it did when I first started Sweet Horizon Studio almost 6 years ago.
For starters, Mike works from home with me now and we share a desk. Granted, it’s a big desk (I bought myself a dining room table to use as a desk because I’m extra) but we literally sit side by side most days unless I’m working from the couch. He still has his 9-5 job where he builds statistical analytics software, but he’s also able to help with my business even more since he’s right beside me everyday.
Our typical daily routine:
Mike gets up first and makes us coffee.
He usually has a meeting for his job in the mornings and that’s around when I get up.
I’ve been having my coffee and reading every morning in order to wake up and I’m LOVING this new routine.
When his meeting is done, I’ll join him in the office and we’ll start checking off our to-do lists for the day.
We proof read each other’s emails and I read almost all of my client presentations out loud to him.
We pause to have lunch together, or eat in the office if it’s a particularly busy day, or we run errands on our lunch break.
In the afternoon, we both usually have meetings, depending on the day, but sometimes after he’s done for the day he’ll help me with anything I’m wrapping up or struggling with that day.
On the weekends or days that we don’t have much to do, we’ll work on the WordPress themes we are trying to launch soon, or take pictures, or work on things like copy for marketing content.
The in-between work
If I have a coding issue, he’s right there to help me fix it so I no longer have to wait till the evening to get his help. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve literally just left off a semi-colon and it has broken everything. A second pair of eyes on your code always helps catch stupid mistakes!)
I get his opinion on all client designs before I send them off, mainly because I’m curious what designs are his favorite but also because I really like to get a second opinion on what I’m presenting.
We talk through business plans and detail out goals together. We like to walk the neighborhood in the evenings and we spend that time talking a lot about business plans.
If I have a client meeting, we talk about how it went, how the project needs to progress, and things that I’m thinking about for that client. He knows all of my clients by name because we discuss every project at length.
He has helped me decide every minor and major business decision I have made, from switching hosting platforms, to starting new planners and CRMs, to hiring an assistant, to what marketing I’m doing next. It’s honestly just nice to not have to decide everything on your own.
He also makes sure I remember to eat haha! Mike is quite the chef and, when I’m so focused on my work that I forget it’s lunch or dinner time, he always has something yummy he can whip up.
A couple of years ago, Mike told me he wanted to have an official role in Sweet Horizon Studio so that’s when I added him to the website and made this whole thing a “we” instead of just a “me”. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that he cares about this business and community as much as I do and I love that I get to share this business experience with my literal best friend.
All in all, owning a business is a wild ride. In so many ways, working with my husband has made this journey so much easier on me. I’m sure if I kept writing I could come up with a million other things he does for me throughout my work day and, holy moly, do I appreciate all this man does for me and this business of mine!
I’m super grateful to work with this dreamboat of a man everyday and to call him my husband. On this Valentine’s Day, I’m appreciating him extra hard for all he does and for the support he truly is to me.
I hope you are spending this Valentine’s Day with someone you love that encourages you in all your business endeavors, whether that’s a partner, parent, grandparent, sibling, or friend. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!