When they started the blog “Black and Married” in 2007, Ronnie, and Lamar Tyler were fed up with the negative portrayals of African Americans and matrimony. Mainstream media had long been known to hang on the tired tropes of the broken black family. The Tylers, a happily married couple with four children (two of whom are from Ronnie’s previous relationship) set out to change the narrative.
The site, known today as BlackandMarriedWithKids.com, has transformed into a multimedia enterprise– releasing documentary films about marriage, music videos, and posts from 10 regular staff writers. Their company Tyler New Media also specializes in online branding and Web content development. Adding film to their portfolio is what allowed the couple to generate enough income to transition into blogging full time and recoup their six-figure salaries. Having a viable product not only brought in revenue for the growing site, but also led to speaking engagements and other opportunities such as creating social media campaigns for companies such as General Mills.
Since then, the Atlanta-based husband and wife have worked together to bring a unique experience to their website. Not only is it a blog in the traditional sense, they have also leveraged the site as a launching platform for their bestselling Amazon.com documentaries, Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage; You Saved Me; and their most recent documentary Men Ain’t Boys.
Over the course of their entrepreneurial journey, the Tylers have found there are four core elements that must be in place if you want to build a successful business with your spouse.
The Tylers’ Advice On How to Build a Business With Your Spouse
“The Couples C.O.C. is what we call the Couple’s Code of Conduct between the both of us. Your Couples C.O.C. outlines the proper practices between you and your spouse both in your marriage and in your business, Lamar explains. “They define the lines that you will not cross, especially in the presence of others. They set a baseline that ensures respect and admiration are upheld in your private and public lives. Your employees will never respect you if you don’t respect each other. Cracks in the foundation of your marriage will also lead to cracks in the foundation of your business. So you need to set rules that protect what you’ve built by allowing cooler heads to prevail at the proper times.
Respect for your strengths… and weaknesses
You both need to be able to determine and respect what you are each strong at. Just as important as finding your strengths is determining your weaknesses and then handing off those duties to someone who is better suited for the job. “Ronnie and I are total opposites in the way that we complete each and every task,â€ notes Lamar. “What we have to do is lean on each other where we are the strongest while having trust that the other person will perform the job and complete the task, even though they won’t do it how we would have done it. My strength is creativity, her strength is organization and productivity so when we delegate what gets done in the business we lean on our strengths to figure this out.”
For your business to be great you have to have a plan. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Without a vision your business will perish as well! You have to take the time to develop a vision for where you want to take your business and what the goals are that you hope to achieve, the Tylers caution. “Set goals for the next 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and 10 years. Then go back and revisit those goals and how you are doing on achieving them on a regular basis. Feel free to adjust as needed. Nothing feels as good as accomplishing goals with your spouse,” adds Lamar.
“Like respect, if you don’t have trust in your marriage it’s nearly impossible to have it in your business. And if you’re going to be in business with anyone, trust must be in place,” stresses Lamar. “Trust comes into place with money, management, duties and more. Can I trust that you are going to do what you say you are going to do even on the most basic level? This is an important question that you and your spouse should be able to answer.”
There are other things that will benefit the partnership but these are the four core components that will set you and your spouse up for success.