If you are in business with someone you live with, Amy Lindner-Lesser, proprietor of the Rookwood Inn, Justice of the Peace and the Co-Founder’s Coach shares how to work with those you love.
“I’m somebody who’s gone through all kinds of life transitions. I’m a parent of two adult children, a grandma with 1 more on the way, and a widow. I was a caregiver for my mother and stepfather for the last five years of their lives. I’ve had lots of business experience and personal experience. I’ve run the Inn now for almost 21 years on my own. My husband passed away two and a half years after buying me in, which was something I never expected to be facing. Either single set, single parenting or owning a business and operating it on my own.”
You have hit just about every life transition and life experience that one could have, and yet still so upbeat and still so ready to share and help others. Recently, you’ve turned that energy and attention to a new adventure, I would say, but certainly not new to you. And that is, as the Co-Founders coach, and in this program, you are helping couples who are in business together. This is so relevant right now, with so many folks at home, they’re operating their business, there used to be some time when they could escape from all of this joint venturing that they’re doing. But now there’s no space.
What would you say to the business owners that are running a business together, living together, loving together, raising a family together and suddenly, there’s no space in the house, there’s no space in the office?
“With all of us being stuck at home, or privileged to be at home, people who never work together, are now working together because they’re sharing space. What I found in our first two years of owning the Inn, where we lived here and work together, was that it was really important to have very clearly defined roles. Each of us found what our strengths were, what we would agree to do and what we would let the other person do. This ensured that we didn’t have arguments about whose responsibility it was.”
Co-founders, are intentionally in business together. But now that we’re all home, we’re de facto in business together. My husband is working upstairs and he has a paid nine to five job and I’m running my business downstairs, the kids are doing school, just outside of my office door. We’re all in this situation. Defining those roles really clearly is essential.
“And clearly delineated spaces, so that you’re not pushing each other out of the way.
Make sure you’re not in a corner in the dining room or the kitchen, where everybody is walking through. For those of us used to having an office to go to where we don’t have the interruptions of our children or our spouse, it’s a new game.
Find ways to separate. Whether it’s when things get sort of heated, or a decision needs to be made, or somebody’s emotions get out of hand; it’s important to be able to separate physically. You could leave the room, work in a different space, or go out and take a walk. Or it could be running errands. Shopping is one of my least favorite things. But doing it was a way for me to get out and get away from business and have to think about something else.
You don’t have to do your business all the time. You can have your own space, you can meet with your customers separately. Having clearly defined spaces and breaks and time are an extension of clearly defined roles.”
Is there some missing piece? Something that businesses can be doing that they’re not right now that might help their situation.
“For some businesses, it’s not terribly hard to pivot, that there may be ways to take things online. But for many of us, I know I struggled for the first few weeks asking, “How do I take an “Inn experience” where people come get away from the stress and relax?” I could take it anywhere else. So, I developed packages to bring our experience home with you. And those are available online. I think is so important is to find other businesses, either in the same field that you’re in, or maybe even in a completely different field, and collaborate.
For me, it is an interview series that I’ll be starting. I’m doing interviews with a lot of the cultural venues, the museums, the theater groups, and the like here. I ask them to tell us where their facility or their venue and give us a secret, something nobody else might know. I am using this as a way to remind our guests that there are still things here when it’s time for them to be able to travel, and it keeps all of us in the forefront. We’ve talked about selling each other’s products on online stores or when we re-open to be able to sell and gift shops. I have been working with more coaches and talking about collaborating by offering retreats here at Inn. We can make the plans for when the environment opens up again.”
This is a fantastic time for relationship building.
3 Action Steps
Be sure to connect with Amy Lindler-Lesser on LinkedIn or Facebook.
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Being an entrepreneur and business owner is hard! Once you have your business up and running it's not uncommon to hit a few snags: scalability, staff retention, launching growth projects, getting enough sleep!