When Your Spouse is Your Business Partner

business partnership

The best foundations are built on trust. This includes business partnerships with your spouse.

Jenna Tieman, the co-owner of Hoosier Athletic Club in Bloomington, Indiana, said the more she trusts her husband and co-owner, Shaun, the more he trusts her. And that’s why their business partnership works.

From that foundation, it is then understanding one another’s strengths and weaknesses. “From the beginning, Shaun has been the lead programmer. His strengths are all-things CrossFit. He knows the ins-and-outs of how to appropriately program the right movements on the right days with the right intensities,” said Jenna. “My strength just comes from my love of problem solving. If there’s something not flowing well, then I fix it. Naturally, I developed the admin side of things.”

While strengths vary, Jenna said they have to work together to ensure their vision is on the same track. Consistency in training classes and embracing core values is essential to the business. Sometimes, they don’t see eye to eye and will have to work through the disagreement. Sometimes, the day sucks even though they gave 100 percent. But, Jenna said they don’t give up.

Because honestly, it has taken time and maturing on both of their parts to build a successful business partnership. Jenna said while she is more aggressive, Shaun tends to be more passive. While she often simply wants to get the job finished, Shaun needs fun to thrive. “I’ve done my best to learn more about his DISC profile to better understand what he needs to feel supported when I talk,” she shared.

But, it also takes a healthy dose of passion. Jenna said they never stop thinking about the business, and it’s because they love what they do. “Almost everyone I know who started a CrossFit gym with their significant other has sold the gym; I know first-hand how the stress can tear a family apart,” she said. “You have to love it. You have to offer a professional experience. You have to be willing to reflect, change and grow. You have to trust your partner and you both have to work equally hard.”

The toughest part of their business relationship has been accountability. Jenna explained no one is saying, ‘The meeting is at this time.’ Sometimes, they will choose not to meet, or will change the meeting time. “If we don’t have meetings, we’re not on the same track. WODs are miscommunicated, events are not planned for, etc.,” she shared.

So, it’s not easy. Business partnership is a challenge. But Jenna related it to a documentary of a woman who was training for a 5-day trail run. The athlete breaks down multiple times in the middle of her journey, despite being an expert and having trained for the run.

“Still, mentally and physically there are so many moments where she wants to give up, even with all the support around her,” shared Jenna. “[While watching it], I looked at Shaun and said, ‘This is us.’ We can’t think about how hard it is now. You have to think about what our goals are in the end, and keep fighting to get there … Successful people just don’t quit.”

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.