Case Study: Being Business Partners With Your Spouse

Team Acquira
-  August 30, 2021
What You’ll Learn
  • The Gienger’s tried and proven 11 tenets for a successful relationship
  • If getting into a business with your spouse is a great idea for you
  • How to navigate your differences in business with your spouse
  • How to manage the extra physical contact without killing romance
  • How to maintain solid unity at all times

Kylon and Teliah Gienger have been married for 11 years and have a 2-year-old daughter, Stevie. They’ve been running businesses together since 2012.

But this wasn’t the first partnership for Kylon. Right after he got out of the military, he went 50/50 with one of his best friends in a painting company. According to him, this was an incredible learning experience and it set the stage for future business endeavors.

Te became more involved when they opened a yoga studio and a juice bar. “We kind of just fell into it”, she said. “We just decided that that was the trajectory we wanted to take in our life.

I actually was really close to going to nursing school and I decided against it so that we could start businesses together and don't regret it one bit.”

Today, Kylon Gienger is the president of Acquira and Teliah is the content manager. In addition, they own other businesses too.

During the conversation, Kylon and Te were open about their experience over the years and how they’ve navigated themselves through 9 years of successful business partnership and 11 years of blissful marriage.

Teliah and Kylon’s 11 Tenets for their Successful Marriage-Business Relationship

husband and wife partnership

They call it “The Shield”. And it is 11 binding principles they’ve been building since they were 19.

Te described it as “something that has been consistent throughout our entire marriage. These principles carry out into every aspect of our life ー most of them. There are a few personal to our marriage.”

Kylon tagged it “the foundation for what's made our relationship successful for almost 11 years.”

The Shield

Our love and commitment to each other is strong and unbreakable. These standards are the Shield with which we protect our relationship.

  1. Standard of Spiritual Growth: We search for spiritual truths all over the world that fulfill our souls’ natural longing to belong to something greater than ourselves. We realize that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We do this together and share our experiences with each other.
  2. Standard of Communication: We continuously communicate in a healthy and authentic way. If we are talking to each other we eliminate all distractions so that we can fully focus on and understand what the other is saying.
  3. Standard of Health: We individually practice the eight laws of health (sunshine, water, sleep, exercise, time in reflection, healthy diet, fresh air, and self-control) and set goals to stay healthy and fit for each other.
  4. Standard of Quality Time: We consistently spend quality time together as a couple. If we spend more than two days with friends or family or separated, we spend the next available time alone together.
  5. Standard of Sharing: We share everything. If one of us knows or likes a certain thing, the other learns about it or finds something to like about it too so we can enjoy it together.
  6. Standard of Serving: We continually look for ways to selflessly serve one another. We consider it a great honor to serve each other as well as be selflessly served.
  7. Standard of Spontaneity: We are not boring. We continuously do exciting and adventurous things. If either of us has an impulse, we both follow it.
  8. Standard of Honesty: At all times we are truthful and honest towards each other even if it is difficult to say or hear. If one of us feels like there is an issue that is causing “creeping separateness” in the relationship, they confront the other about it as soon as possible.
  9. Standard of Building Up: We never put each other down in any way or in any circumstance even in joking. Instead, we constantly look for ways to build each other up publicly and privately.
  10. Standard of Loving: We love each other according to our love languages daily. Kylon loves Teliah by speaking words of affirmation and spending quality time with her. Teliah loves Kylon through acts of service and words of affirmation.
  11. Navigation Council: On the first Wednesday (date night) of the month, we hold the “Navigation Council” to discuss our relationship’s direction and health. This is also a time where we bring up any issue that we feel needs to be discussed, eliminate any form of creeping separateness, and talk about our relationship’s current purpose and vision.

8 Success Lessons from Teliah and Kylon’s Life and Business Partnership

1. Enjoy Each Others Company

Being married and working together is different from most marriages where you both leave to separate jobs and only spend time together in the evenings and during weekends. Doing business together as a couple increases your physical contact time incredibly.

If you don’t enjoy each other’s company naturally, this will cause some friction. And this friction is even more damaging as you’d not only affect your relationship but your work and source of income.

Kylon suggests if you are “at each other's throat and arguing about who's doing the laundry or your personal finances”, then you probably shouldn’t get into a business together just yet. “You want to get to the point where you guys could do anything together and no matter what it is, communicate through it and work it out.”

2. Make Time for Romance

It shouldn’t be work all the time. Kylon advises to intentionally set out time away from work to be together. He talked about their own experience saying, “The only boundaries we really have are at least once a week we try, we don't always make it, but we have a set-aside time for a date.

“If we don't make it to that specific day, most evenings we're able to drop work and just be together, not discuss work.”

They will physically hide their phones on Friday nights and only turn them back on on Sunday night. It’s great to disconnect from work and focus on being lovers regularly.

3. Maintain a United Front at All Times

business partnership ideas

Great communication is a common denominator in all successful business partnerships. For Te and Kylon, this happens effortlessly as they’ve been great friends since they were 17. At all times when dealing with other business partners, vendors, etc., they hash things out to create common ground between themselves first and present a united front.

Here’s how Kylon tells it: “If there's a certain decision that we need to make at work and Te and I are in it together, we'll discuss it, come up with a solution we both agree on, and then we'll present it to business partners, vendors, or anybody else.”

Te added, “We made a vow early on that there’s nothing in business that's more important than our relationship. And so if we're finding conflict in a certain area, we take a step back and try to unpack that as much as possible before actually making a decision and presenting it to other people so that we are a united front.”

We made a vow early on that there’s nothing in business that's more important than our relationship.

They never present something to others without first agreeing on it—thinking and acting as a unit—even though sometimes this may take a longer time than usual.

4. Communicate Honestly: “Don’t Hold Anything Back”

Sometimes things may go sideways and threaten your marriage or business relationship. But that doesn’t have to be the case if you’re proactive. Kylon said about their partnership that they’re very communicative.

“The key here is just communication. We don't hold anything back. So we have many heated conversations where I'm telling Te, ‘Hey, here's what I think you need to work on and where I see weaknesses in yourself and how you can overcome those.’ And she'll do it to me as well.”

Te shared a scenario saying, “I remember when those conversations would come up or when I would present an idea, an option, or a solution to something, and it wasn't the best one or wasn't the accepted one. We would get into a debate over it. I remember feeling personally attacked, but I think that you have to disconnect your identity from the business.

“And I know that's really hard for a lot of entrepreneurs. But I had to really work at that and learn that just because I present an idea or I have a weakness in this area of business does not mean that that's who I am as a person as a whole. That's just an aspect of our life and, you know, process it however you need to, but you can't really take those things personally unless it's a personal attack.”

Be kind with your words

This may sound like a no-brainer but be careful that you’re not verbally attacking each other under the guise of brutal honesty in communication.

“You got to be honest with each other, but not in a way where you're personally attacking,” Kylon said.

Choose your words carefully when sharing notes, observations, or helping each other grow. It shouldn’t be a “you did this, you did that” scenario. There should be understanding, assistance, and constructive criticism.

Kylon also added that if you feel the other person is failing to some degree, you should first assess the systems behind that. Because it necessarily isn’t always their fault. Figure out the solution to the underlying cause of the problem and fix it together.

5. Align Life and Family Goals with Your Business Goals

When the ultimate goal for getting into business together is to create wealth and freedom for your family, it becomes easy to tie your life and family goals with your business goals. So, the first step is to get your priorities straight.

“We do set family goals or lifestyle goals first, and then our business goals are a direct extension of our family and personal goals”, Te said.

Kylon then added, “It’s very important when we're setting goals for the future of our family that we don't set goals like ‘We want to earn X amount of money in X amount of time’ or ‘We want to have X net worth in X amount of time.’

“We want to own a large ranch together sometime in the next 10 years, and so we just decide and that's the lifestyle we want, and then we work our way backward to figure out what type of business we have to build in order to have that lifestyle. So the business is built around the desired lifestyle.”

Not the lifestyle built around the business.

We build our business around our lifestyle, not our lifestyle around our business.

You can get the Kids Involved too

In most cases, since you’re both involved in the business, and you’re both absent from home at the time, it makes sense to have the children with you. It’s a fantastic way to set the business as part of the family culture.

“Stevie is only two… but she's been very much involved. I mean not involved, she's a two-year-old, but she's been around and surrounded by business her whole life.” Te went on to tell the story about when she’d just given birth to Stevie and they were in the middle of selling two of their businesses:

“A week after she was born, I was laying in bed, filling out purchase and sale agreements for selling our two businesses because I was the lead on selling them. And she came with us to sign the businesses away when she was like two months, maybe a month old.”

Kylon said, “The whole family is involved, it's not just like me doing my own thing. It's the family, including the two-year-old visiting the business. And in fact, we own a business with plants that have to be watered. And our two-year-old likes to go around and water the plants.”

6. Share Responsibilities According to Each Other’s Strengths

best business partner for an entrepreneur

Responsibilities in marriage range from household to parenting. But when you add running a business to the dynamic, there’ll be more responsibilities to share.

In sharing these responsibilities, you should have a collaborative mentality, thinking as teammates. Allocate tasks together, according to your strengths.

About how they split their financial duties, Kylon says, “I'm typically focused on the long-term; on the big picture. I focus on our personal balance sheet as a family. And I use that to help us make longer-term, high-level decisions on what we're going to do as a family. Te takes on the responsibility of actually getting more granular and paying those bills, making sure we receive that income. And in managing our budget.”

If you have tasks both of you are weak at or don’t have the time or energy for, don’t be afraid to outsource. Te mentioned hiring a housekeeper who helped her free extra hours each month at a great deal.

7. Make Time for Leisure

Before they had a child, Te and Kylon would go on bouts of working late and just powering through. Kylon said this was okay when they were building.

But “when you have a kid, they're very punctual. They have breakfast at a certain time every day and lunch and dinner at a certain time, every day.”

Rest and leisure are great for spending time with your children, but it is also the secret to entrepreneurial success.

It does your relationship good too by helping you unwind and relieve stress. This reduces the chances of you offloading that stress on your partner, considering you’ll be spending a large chunk of your waking hours together.

8. Set a Weekly Check-In

This way you can have a set time when you find out

  • How the partnership is doing
  • How your relationship is going, and
  • How your partner feels about both

This is your zero-judgment opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings about your marriage-business relationship with your partner and your partner with you.

Making this a weekly—or even daily—habit can help you navigate different aspects of life together and unpack any hard feelings before it grows into a bigger problem.

Key Takeaways

Before you become business partners with your spouse, be ready to enjoy spending company with them for longer than usual. You’d also have to make time for romance, so don’t relax on that important aspect of your new relationship dynamic.

Learn to communicate honestly and kindly. Be accommodating and approach problems with a collaborative mentality. It’s you and your partner against all problems.

Share responsibilities according to each other’s strengths and lean on each other. And while you make time for leisure, also set a regular check-in to assess the status and health of your marriage and business partnership.

Want to Buy a Business?
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Join Our Weekly Newsletter

Dive into these Highlighted Acquisition Narratives

running workshop

How To Run Great Workshops

What You’ll Learn The purpose and ideal cadence for regular workshops The most effective way to run a workshop Who

Join Our Weekly Newsletter
Join Our Weekly Newsletter