DO YOU REALLY HAVE ANY IDEA?
Do your employees?
Or your business partner?
You might be shocked and surprised, perhaps unpleasantly.
Earlier this year, the Fabulous Honey Parker and I announced a new project called CoupleCo.
This is a project by and about couple entrepreneurs--why they do it, why they love it, and how they keep a business going without killing each other.
CoupleCo is one reason we're out here on the road, crossing this great nation of ours in the Slow Burn Marketing Brand Response Unit. Besides visiting clients, we've been conducting interviews for CoupleCo.
Recently, we interviewed a couple who have been running a business together for about 8 years.
These are not kids. They are fully formed, middle-age adults who've been around and had successful careers of their own independent of each other.
TOGETHER, THEY HAVE BUILT A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
They are exactly the kind of people we like to interview.
In wrapping up an interview, we ask the subjects a series of quick questions about each other.
With this particular couple, the exchange went something like this.
"OK, Bill. What is Jill's best quality?"
He says, "She has leaned to do this and such much better with more patience and insight, and she has become more thoughtful about the process."
She says, "You have no idea what you're talking about."
She then rebutted his entire answer.
Clearly, she was right.
He had an entire set of assumptions about something she was doing in the business, and he was dead wrong.
LET THIS BE A LESSON ABOUT ASSUMPTIONS
They are no substitute for actual communication.
And actual communication is something that is frequently lacking inside of a small business--and can bite a brand in the butt, Bob.
Often, the lack of communication is basic.
A simple and common example: The receptionist says to the business owner, "I don't know what's going on, but the phone is suddenly ringing off the hook."
Business owner: "Oh! I forgot to tell you! We're running a new ad in the paper!"
And don't think this is uncommon. I can't count the number of times something like this happened when I worked in radio.
You spend a couple of weeks working with a client who's spending a few thousand to put together a radio promotion.
The radio commercial finally hits the air.
And you find out the business owner never bothered to communicate the promotion to the staff.
DON'T THINK THIS IS NECESSARILY SMALL IN SCOPE, EITHER
We've seen the person in charge not bother to communicate a new brand to the staff.
You know what happens then?
People who've been working under the old brand for years and loving it (even if the brand fits like a bad suit) become uncooperative and pissy.
They refuse to join the business in its brand evolution.
And eventually, the brand withers.
Conversely, we've seen a good explanation of a new brand to the team do astonishing things.
A workforce that was already doing a good and competent job suddenly becomes energized and ready to do things that are even bigger and better.
THE TROOPS BECOME GALVANIZED!
A good brand makes them rally around their leader and prepare to go forth and crush the competition!
But that works only if there's actual communication.
There is no substitute for having a message and being clear.
Communicating the brand and the advertising--the strategy and the tactics--is an essential step.
Imagine that commerce is a battlefield.
The brand's army is assembled there, ready to fight.
And the general standing before them suddenly looks at his cell phone, and wanders off to take a call from his wife.
And never comes back.
WHAT ARE THE TROOPS TO DO?
That's a lot of guys all dressed up, armed to the teeth, and scratching their asses.
That's an expensive proposition--and one that's destined to fail.
Without a mission and orders, those troops are going wherever they feel like--and that doesn't mean they're going to accomplish anything of value.
They need communication.
We've seen something as simple as a re-branding with clarity and purpose give the business owner a tool with which to marshal the troops, inspire them, and give them purpose in a business that was once muddled and without obvious direction.
But if clarity of communication is lacking?
THAT ENTIRE REBRANDING EFFORT WOULD BE POINTLESS
It would be a waste of time and money.
And who has enough of either?
At its most basic, communication keeps everyone on the same page with a clear of idea of mission and goals.
The receptionist doesn't wonder why the phone is suddenly ringing.
The salespeople don't look like idiots when a customer says he wants the offer from the radio.
And your wife doesn't look at you during a recorded interview and say, "You have no idea what you're talking about."
Talk to each other. It's more profitable.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
DO YOU OWN A BUSINESS WITH YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE/PARTNER/SIGNIFICANT OTHER?
If so, you are brave and lucky individual.
Lucky because you get to run a business with the most important person in your life.
Brave because there's a good chance your relationship will be destroyed when it augers into the dirt like a drunk in squirrel suit hurling himself off a cliff in the Swiss alps.
Did you know that 57% of all couplepreneur businesses end in business failure AND divorce?
Did you also know that your faithful scribe just pulled that statistic out of thin air?
YES, THAT STATISTIC IS A LIE
As far as you know.
But it brings up an important question: how the hell do entrepreneurial couples make it work?
The Fabulous Honey Parker and I are constantly asking ourselves that question even as we run a business together.
From our lofty writers' perch here at the Mountaintop Marketing Fortress, we peer down into the world of entrepreneurial couples across the land and wonder, "Does anyone have louder, more vehement, knock-down, drag-out arguments about comma placement than we do?"
Professional writers in business together. You certainly can't say that we don't care about our product.
CALL US THE BILL & MELINDA GATES OF SMALL-BUSINESS BRANDING
No, we're not multi-billionaires.
Nor is either one of us a propeller-head overlord intent on ruling the world through domination of zeroes and ones.
But like the Gateses, we are a married (ahem) "power" couple who've joined forces to make the world a better place--but through small-business branding.
And as Mrs. Gates says about her partnership with Mr. Gates, "We have a collaborative relationship, but we don't spend every minute together."
Of course, Honey and I probably spend more time together than they do, engaging in various kinds of lunacy that Bill and Melinda might eschew. It's hard to imagine the fearless leaders of the Gates Foundation training for wilderness endurance races together.
CAN YOU SAY, "BRING ME THE EPSOM SALTS, DEAR"?
Anyway, there is a point to all this.
Not that both working and playing together is somehow the be-all and end-all of professional perfection.
Though, there is something to be said for being able to do all this with your best friend on earth.
However, if you do own a business with your significant other--or you know a couple who does so--you know that such an undertaking is a glorious minefield.
You think everything's going along swimmingly and then--KABLOOM! Professional and personal body parts everywhere.
HOW DO BILL & MELINDA GATES DO IT?
Or Brangelina? (Apparently Angelina directed Brad in By The Sea and they found it really difficult. But they survived and are stronger for it.)
Or Beyoncé and Jay-Z? (In the wake of rumors about marital trouble on their On The Run tour, they renewed their vows and released a new album. They survived and are stronger for it.)
Or any of the thousands of other non-power couples who run little businesses all across this great nation of ours and survive the daily BS and are stronger for it?
How do they keep the ship afloat despite doing one of the most insanely inadvisable things in business: sleeping with the boss.
Especially when you're not sure who the boss really is?
(You might think that I'm the boss in this business, since Honey routinely calls me, "Mr. Parker." You would be entirely wrong.)
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO A CRACK COUPLE IN BUSINESS TOGETHER?
This is the question that The Fabulous Honey Parker and your relentless scribe have been asking.
And knowing how to have a violent throwdown about comma placement is definitely not the answer. Or even part of it. (Though it certainly makes for a good story over cocktails.)
We've learned by doing.
But there has to be a better way.
This is why your relentless scribe now poses this question: what would you like to know about working with your husband/wife/significant other?
Are you in such a business/relationship now?
Would you like to be?
IF YOU'RE NOT OR YOU DON'T, DO YOU JUST STAND ON THE SIDELINES?
Are you watching the couples who are doing it and just shaking your head?
Do you think they are insane?
Do you envy them?
Do you wish they had better comma placement skills?
What is the single burning question on your mind about couplepreneurism?
Send it our way, because The Fabulous Honey Parker and I are grappling with this challenge right now, this very minute.
AND THE RESULTS ARE GOING TO BE A WHOLE LOT OF FUN
Yesterday, September 5, Labor Day 2016, we officially launched a project called CoupleCo.
Tagline: It's business...and it's personal.
CoupleCo is an entrepreneur's resource for married couples or significant others who have started a business together.
And right now, we need to know what a couple (like you if that is you) in business together needs and would like to see.
And since you know that we here at the Fortress have a very hard time not enjoying what we do, there will be laughs. Frequently there is entertainment.
Even if you're not in business with your life partner but have flirted with the idea--or think we're all just crazy--talk to us.
If you know someone who fits the bill, share this missive with him/her/them.
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.