Working With Your Spouse? Here’s How Two Dubai Entrepreneurs Make It Work

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Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Hernandez

I’ve always wanted to work in F&B, but it was my husband, Haider, who nudged us to follow our food-truck dreams. Starting a business is a huge leap of faith, and it always helps to have someone hold your hand when you dive heart-first into a passion project. We have a shared passion for food, especially Mexican, and it is this common vision and love that has helped guide our journey thus far.

In just under a year, our business, Maiz Tacos, went from being the new kid on the block to a firm favorite. As it grew, we also grew as a couple and as entrepreneurs. Working as business partners has shown us how important communication, acknowledgement, and trust are, both in a marriage as well as a business. Here are a few lessons we have learnt along the way.

Champion Each Other’s Work

It is very important to support and understand each other, and to appreciate what each person brings to the table. One thing I was certain about was that success would require each one of us to focus on our strengths and established roles. Haider is very organized and has massive experience in running big operations and teams, while I am more social, personable, and focus on customer service because of my loud and passionate personality.

We work in a very fast-paced and quick-changing environment, which requires us to think and operate both very hard and very fast. When the going gets tough, you need to be working in parallel and to support each other’s roles. A little pat on the back once in a while goes a long, long way!

Luma Makhlouf and Haider Al Assam Co-owners at Maiz Tacos
Luma Makhlouf and Haider Al Assam, Co-Owners at Maiz Tacos

Value Strengths, Not Hours

Maiz Tacos is my full-time job, so I have more day-to-day responsibilities and put in more hours. Haider still has a 40+ hours-a-week job, so our food business was always going to be a part-time gig for him. That being said, he carries his weight by taking charge of the admin side of the business, as well as a fair share of the kitchen. We stuck to what we each excelled at and made sure that it was 100 percent clear what each person’s tasks are on a day-to-day basis. That has helped keep the engine going, while holding each one of us responsible for key attributes of our business. It is an equal and complementary partnership.

Communicate Respectfully, Openly, and Regularly

Just as in marriage, respect and trust are the most important aspects of a business partnership. Be open and honest about your ideas, and feel comfortable enough to address any insecurities or doubts you may be having. When running a business, you need to really bring your A-game, and holding on to any type of stress or negativity can be harmful for your business and marriage.

Discuss Issues and Failures, and Then Move On

If you disagree about something in the workplace, make sure to address it right away. We’ve made wrong decisions along the way, but talking them through has allowed us to view them as a lesson instead of a setback. This has helped us tremendously in moving on quickly and focusing on our next steps.

Luma Makhlouf Co-owner and Chief Taco Maker at Maiz Tacos
Luma Makhlouf, Co-Owner and Chief Taco Maker at Maiz Tacos

Find Alone Time and Give Each Other Space

When you work and live together, you are together all the time, so it’s very important to find time for yourself, be it dinner with your girls or just binging on your favourite Netflix shows. Haider spends two nights a week playing football and that’s his time away from Maiz. I run my own cooking classes, have breakfast with my girls, and exercise as often as I can. That is what we personally need to re-fuel.

Also, leave work at work. Do not focus on your business at home as well: you are doing enough of that during the day so use the time at home to relax and focus on your marriage.

Have Fun

Owning a food truck is a dream I have had forever. For me, the best part of doing this with my husband is knowing that I am on this crazy journey with the person I love and trust most in the world. It’s so much fun to be doing something so grand and fulfilling like this together. Not many people can say that, and it has been so rewarding.

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