The theme of the book is that Giulia works in the publishing industry in New York, but her real life’s goal involves marriage. She loves to cook and she’s apparently a terrific cook, trained by her Italian mother. She’s got lots of friends and a blossoming career. She has a great New York apartment. But her relationships continue to go sour.
I’m not an expert on romance, but I think Giulia hits the nail on the head in the video she made for the Amazon site. She’s not sure she really wants to get married. Somehow her programming is so intense she can’t come right out and say so, despite years of thearpy. So she keeps looking.
And she made a common mistake: she invested a considerable amount of her time helping someone achieve a professional goal, without setting up a contract and creating a business relationship.
One of her possibles, Lachlan, was an aspiring novelist. Giulia knew an agent who would be interested in his unique fiction. She could have said, “In return for finding you an agent, you will pay me x% of the advance on the book.”
My experience tells me that it’s a good idea to set up these agreements early in the process, even if dealing with your BFF or significant other. Experience also tells me that heart trumps head most of the time. A lot of us believe that we shouldn’t be businesslike when dealing with family and friends, yet framing economic transactions as business often saves a relationship (and at least avoids resentment).
In particular, when it comes to building your next website, you’ve got to hunker down and be firm. If it’s your business – not a jointly owned business with your spouse – then you make the decisions. Meet with the copywriter. Approve the design. Develop your own content strategy.
One of my clients sent me a screen shot of his new brochure. He wanted to promote this brochure on his website. The copy didn’t send a message and the text was hard to read – one of those blue-on-blue jobs.
“I agree with you,” my client said. “But my wife designed this brochure. She’s not a professional designer but she’s taken classes. If I get another designer, she’ll be upset.”
Obviously I’m not a marriage counselor. But I hate to see people torn between making sound business decisions and avoiding a spousal argument (or a conflict with a BFF, cousin, daughter or neighbor).
Additionally, from the perspective of the supplier, I want to deal with ONE person. If you want to discuss your website with your spouse, I suggest to my clients, go for it!
But then you talk to me. You’re the person who signs off on the copy (or the whole website, if we do a full-service project).
My married friends tell me they’ve learned to create a boundary line between business and family, friends and neighbors. They don’t solicit advice from family members. When they’re working, the door is closed to personal stuff: no discussions of where to meet for dinner, no signing for packages, and no personal emails. And when they’re done, the business remains in the home office, real or virtual.
And in the same way, your website belongs firmly on the business side of the boundary line. Both family and business will be a whole lot happier.
What’s your solution to the personal vs business question?