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Working with your Spouse in a Franchise? This Book will Save you from Failure!

A lot has been written about franchising, but the experts who write about the topic often fail to realize what should be obvious: The success of a franchise depends on the relationships of those who own it. Failure to recognize the importance of these relationships, means that most franchises run by life partners will be doomed to fail from the outset, even when they buy into an excellent franchise system.

Finally, there is a new book that addresses the relational factor in franchising. The Invisible Partnership: How to Work with your Spouse without Getting Divorced, written by Louise Woodbury and William de Ora, hits the nail on the head. We can say that our franchise would have been another failed business venture had we not learned from Louise and William the principles presented in their book.

The concepts in The Invisible Partnership helped us to turn our business around and make it a success. In fact, our story is presented as a case study in the book. Our story is not unique. We operated naively on the basis of several culturally accepted but false ideas. For example, in the cutthroat world of business, the man is typically regarded as the dominant force while the woman is supposed to stay in the background minding the front desk and doing the books. We bought into this big lie and it caused many problems. Now we understand how wrong this thinking is.

We also failed to recognize that businesses run by life partners have their own special dynamics. As the authors of The Invisible Partnership say, “If you apply the rules that govern a normal business to a business run by life partners, then your business will be doomed to failure.” Thankfully, we learned the crucial principles needed to run a successful business with a life partner from Louise and William.

Any good franchise obviously must have a good system. However, if the systems are not based on strong relational foundations, then the business won’t have a chance. So, when we say “strong foundations” we don’t mean the track record of the franchisor or how they support the franchisees. The foundation I am talking about is the strength of the working relationship of the life partners.

In our case, we bought the franchise together. But in the early days of working in our new franchise, it was the husband’s business. As the wife, I referred to the business as “his business.” The franchisor and the suppliers thought the same way.

I did my best to work in the background. But because it was not “my business,” the ultimate decision was left to the man. To be really honest, I resented this. And to be fair to my partner, the business demanded far too much of him alone. But not knowing any better, we did our best. However, our best wasn’t good enough. The problem wasn’t that we were bad or wrong, and it wasn’t the franchisor’s fault. The problems occurred because we did not address the relational basis of our business and partnership.

Among the many great points The Invisible Partnership makes, the one that most set our business in the right direction is the principle of “alignment.” William and Louise tell us that life partners working together in the same business must be aligned in mind, spirit and action. This principle was missing in the franchise manual, training program and support services.

It’s frightening, but franchisors in general have no idea how to address this fundamental, essential foundation. This is unfortunate because most franchises are bought by couples who are life partners. Based on our experience, the concept of alignment is critical to the success of any business run by life partners. This is true for small and medium-size businesses.

The Invisible Partnership is a ground breaking book that will help couples to readjust to how best to work together. Louise and William go totally against the common thinking. They recognize that couples relate differently at home from the way they relate at work. William and Louise helped us see that couples tend to overlook these important differences between life at work and home.

The answer to this tension, they say, is not to establish demarcation lines between work and home. This is impossible. William and Louise say the line between home life and work will always be blurred. Instead of separating home and work, they say the answer is to merge them.

The way you merge them is by aligning the couple’s life goals. In a strong partnership, common goals and aspirations must take priority over individual agendas. We knew this before. But no one ever explained this principle in the context of a business and life partnership.

Louise and William were able to communicate this and other important factors without management mumbo jumbo because they made the same mistakes we made. And like so may other couples, they were heading toward financial ruin and almost got a divorce.

The Invisible Partnership: How to Work with your Spouse without Getting Divorced is a real eye opener. It’s a book that must be read by all couples in business if they feel their business and marriage is stuck in a downward spiral. If you find yourself in this situation, then this book could save your marriage and business. The Invisible Partnership was our savior, in more ways than one.

Helen and Jim Bakasetas, franchisee partners

Republication of Invisible Partnership articles are permitted, given the original link and author are referenced. High resolution photos can be provided upon request.

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