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Dear Blogger: I have been working on a restaurant concept for almost two years and am about to close the deal on a location that I believe will work for the concept. I left my job about six months ago and devote hours to my business plan. When I began researching the restaurant idea my wife promised full support for the project. She has a great job and claimed she would support me in every endeavor. Here´s the problem: my wife sees how enjoyable the business is and wants to leave her job and join me in the business. I don´t want to tell her she can´t, but I don´t know if I want a partner. Can you offer any advice on what I should do and how I should handle the situation?
Married with Plans
Fort Lee, New Jersey
You claim you don´t want a partner- you already have one- whether or not you want to test your relationship by bringing your personal life to work everyday is something only you can decide. My wife was the best of all the partners I had in the many restaurants we created. She is exceptional-(see why we´re still together)- in our relationship and business and if two people are going to coexist in the restaurant business they must be extraordinary people are the day to day conflicts that arise will split them faster than piece of oak on a cold Vermont morning.
The tremendous news about your wife´s desire is that you will need the help, support, and another other set of trusted eyes to assist in the daily quest for success and profitability can never hurt.
You will need to agree on an arrangement that will help you complete your journey without adding extreme tension. Realize from the beginning, though, every partnership has its problems and the one you may or may not enter into with your wife will also at times seem rocky. That is only natural.
Kranston and I were very fortunate as we both have honed talents that we are extremely proficient and professional in and we know our limitations. Plus, we also know who has stronger points in specific areas and frequently acquiesce when a decision needs to made. We have also had some board room battles over the course of a decision-whether involving an employee, a vendor, a location, another partner, and sometimes the price to charge for a catering menu- but we quickly leave those in the board room and move on with the ultimate goal of giving the project enough life to grow and succeed.
I don´t know enough about your relationship to give specific advice on how you will tender the working relationship, but I can offer a few tips that may help you get through the rough patches.
1). Before you step into your new space, discuss each of your responsibilities based on what you enjoy doing and which one of you has the talent to accomplish the goals.
2). Once you decide on these roles, don´t change them without discussing it first. My territory was the back of the house-the kitchen and the ordering of perishable foods. Kranston ran the front of the house- the dining room and the wait staff. We respected each other´s authority in those areas and seldom interfered with the operation of either.
3). Working out a schedule is very important. Plan time apart. Work alternating shifts. Make sure that if you do work the same hours you make time for yourselves. It is only the exceptionally driven that can be together in the restaurant business full time.
4). Split the authority between you but let the staff know whose boss. In any organization one person needs to have the final say on the big decisions. Designate who the boss is before you begin to clearly define the ultimate roles. Kranston was the boss in our organization-(another reason we´re still together) – I did however wield extreme influence, which is the best position to be in.
5). Enjoy your business.
6). Share the passion for food, entertaining and making people feel comfortable. Check to make sue that the glamour of the door, which is a small part of the business, isn´t the only element attracting your new partner.
7). Bring home the good experiences. Make sure that you leave the bad experiences- the flubbed entrees, the unhappy customers, the inefficient waiter, the drunken sous-chef in the restaurant- or the car. Once your home, discuss the enjoyable events- the great catering party, the happy couple on table four, Shirley Witherspoon downing 18 pan fried oysters.
8). Don´t take your partner´s disagreement as a personal affront. The restaurant business is based on creativity. Creativity differs with every breathe of life. Disagreement isn´t necessarily dissent.
9). Discuss the bad times before they knock on your door. This is a vital statistic. Failure is neither friend nor foe- it´s just a reality in restaurants. And, the chances that you will not make a huge profit and a become very successful building a vast empire of emporiums that please the public is more likely than you think. Let you wife know that the future could take a dip in the prosperity meter. There is no inoculation for the bites and stings you are about to experience. As true with any journey to a foreign destination, you need to keep your eyes open and your senses fresh. You are about to begin an expedition into worldwide community where the knowledge of the guide is often only as good as the instinct of the travelers.
10). Enjoy the trip. It can strain your relationship, but don´t let it break it. It can tire you both, but know the difference between becoming tired and tiring of the project. Keep a keen eye on the opportunities on the horizon, remember your only as good as your last meal, don´t believe your own press releases, create continually, enjoy the adventure"?¦it´s only food. Finally, watch out for pirates.