J.J. and Beverly Jerman were dating when they decided to venture into working together.
“I was working as a nurse in a GI Lab at the time and developed an allergy to cleaning chemicals so I had to find a different job,” says Beverly. “J.J. suggested that I come work with him, which scared me to death. We had been dating 2 ½ years at that point and I sure didn’t want to mess anything up. That was in 2010.”
J.J. and Beverly married in 2011. For the past seven years, they have run Office Furniture Warehouse and have learned many valuable lessons about working together as a couple.
“One thing we would for sure tell couples who are thinking about working together is it’s important to have defined roles and to discover each other’s strengths,” Beverly says.
Both J.J. and Beverly agree they didn’t have clearly defined roles when they started this venture.
“We weren’t clear about the lanes either of us should be running in within the organization,” says J.J. “I knew she was a great people person. I am definitely more focused on the business side of things and not as in tune with how people are thinking or feeling. After a few months of trying to figure things out, we decided Beverly would make a great ambassador for the company working in human relations and I would focus on tasks, goals and strategy. Knowing our lanes helped tremendously.”
The Jermans also learned that if they didn’t determine their priorities and create some boundaries, the business could consume them. If you are considering starting a business as a couple, the Jermans suggest the following:
- Have your priorities straight. For the Jermans, it was faith first, then family, with their business coming in third. They quickly learned that misplaced priorities caused things to not go well at home or at work.
- Make a conscious effort to turn off work at home. “There are times when we are so busy going in different directions, we don’t get to connect until we get home,” Beverly says. “However, we determined that both of us need the freedom to say I don’t feel like talking about anything work-related right now and your spouse won’t hold that over your head.”
- Start your day doing something that sets a positive tone. The Jermans start their day by reading. They read a business book, a spiritual book and a book about some type of self-improvement.
- When you are away from the office, focus on self-care. “We think it is really important to give our brains a rest,” Beverly says. “We hike, bike ride, connect with our kids, care for aging parents and go on weekly date nights. All of this is crucial to us functioning well at work and at home.”
- If you find yourself in trouble at work due to the relationship, ask for help. The Jermans found a coach to help them navigate through uncharted waters.They believe this saved them from a lot of drama both at home and at work.
- Have a sense of humor. Both J.J. and Beverly agree that being able to laugh definitely helps when the going gets tough.
- Have an exit strategy. Going into business together is a huge commitment of time and energy. Having an agreed-upon plan in case change is necessary will help protect your relationship and the business.
The Jermans are among approximately 2 million couples who choose to work together. The lessons they have learned through the years have helped them grow a very successful business.
“While the business is important, the most important thing is the relationship we have,” Beverly says. “We have learned when to ask for help and have surrounded ourselves with people who believe in us. We are strong, and we enjoy what we have built together.”
This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on June 4, 2017.
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