Going into business with your significant other takes a lot of thought and commitment from both parties. It should be a mutual decision and as a couple, you need to sit down and decide where you will draw the line.
Comedian Tumi Morake and her husband, Mpho Osei-Tutu, created the local TV show, Kota Life Crisis, a few years ago after much consideration. While the couple had been considering the idea for a long time, it took them even longer to actually make it happen.
Morake tells DESTINY: “We started the conversation because we kept getting hired for the same projects at the same time, so it was inevitable that we’d work together. But starting up the company took some time, bearing in mind the teething phases.”
Morake believes that business talks should not be taken into a couple’s intimate space. Somewhere along the line, Morake and her husband noticed that they were losing touch with each other and decided on a rule: “When we walk into the bedroom, business is over.”
She also adds that non-negotiables for going into business with your spouse include sorting out domestic issues before going back to the boardroom.
“When we’re in the middle of a project, we have to resolve whatever issues are happening at home – and fast,” she says. “We reach some kind of consensus before we continue and have done very well in keeping it that way.”
Supporting one another becomes crucial when you’re in business, Morake advises. She says that because you’re in the same space and you’re forced into roles, you have to make sure that you’re on the same page.
Morake says that as a couple, financial space can be tricky to navigate together, especially when you get married.
She says: “When we got married, I was an independent young woman making my own money, living in my own crib with my own financial habits. Then when Mpho came along, we had to adjust together. The same thing happened with the business. We realised this can’t be approached in any way other.
“No special treatment. If I miss a deadline, I’m in as much trouble as everyone else in the team. I’m actually held even more accountable. Take me as seriously as other clients.”
There are many aspects to consider when going into business with your spouse. The same kind of conversations that are had prior to getting married, should be had when starting a business with your significant other.
According to Morake, some questions to consider are: “Are we taking on a third person? Should we giving shares to a family member who doesn’t understand the business?”
At this point, things can become personal (because family members’ names pop up), but it’s important to remember that you’re running a business and you need to do what’s best for the company.
Morake advises couples not to go into business if communication is an issue. If you can identify traits in both of you that you know will work, then that’s a good starting point.
“When Mpho went into business with me, it was very clear that we work well together and he loves how I can sell. I went into business with him because he’s a typical type A personality; he’s pedantic and I knew that whatever balls are dropped, he’s going to catch. I went into this knowing that I have someone who has my back in the business sphere. It was me acknowledging that I have a weakness when it comes to admin, etc, and I believe I’m with someone who calls me on it and who will push me.”
Connie and Shona Ferguson also took the plunge to go into business together and started a production company, Ferguson Films. In a previous interview with DESTINY, Shona said: “We wanted a platform that allowed us to create an environment where we could think out of the box and not necessarily follow the norm. TV is about growth and change. What was great 10 years ago is not really the same today.”
Connie added: “Viewers being deprived of good small-screen content inspired the birth of Ferguson Films. Our viewers want and deserve more so we started Ferguson Films with the aim of developing high-quality content with risqué storytelling, while remaining true to today’s world.
Another power couple who’ve gone into business together are Lita Mbokotho and his wife Hombisa Mbokotho, who established Tsori Capital nearly six years ago. Tsori Capital is a 100% black-owned company, of which women own 70%, that helps South African entrepreneurs create their own business empires.