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EP 19 - Navigating Family Business as the Spouse, With Stacie Forsberg

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The role of a spouse in the family business can mean so many other roles also. Consultant, behind-the-scenes helper, coach, fill in the gaps, emergency help, etc... ultimately the often silent business partner is filling so many different roles it would be difficult to hire for the position if one needed to look outside the family. Stacie Forsberg has learned to grow personally so she has the capacity for more as the business grows and she has to step into different roles at different times.


Jaime White00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Believe Crew Podcast; The Business IS You. I'm Jamie White, Founder of Believe Crew and your host, let's jump right in. Welcome to the podcast, Stacie. I'm so excited to have everyone meet my friend in business with her husband. And everyone is able to learn and hear and grow from everyone else's experiences, right? We've been connecting for years. And I've seen so much growth in her personally. And I know both of us to understand what it's like to be in a family business. So, Stacy, I would love to hear how you and your husband got into the business. In the beginning, what were some of the initial stories?

Stacie Forsberg00:41

So I grew up on a family farm, and my husband grew up on a family farm. When we first married, he was farming with his family. At some point, it just it got to be too much family. And so we split off and Taylor took another job driving truck and knew that that's not what he wanted to do long term, he wanted to own his own business. And in the farming industry where we live, they put installed drainage tile for farmers or in Minnesota, we have too much water. And he had done that on his dad's farms, when he was younger, knew he loved it decided he was going to do it. So I supported him wholeheartedly. And we jumped in, I think it was 2008, when we bought our first tile plow, so jumped in. And he has been doing it ever since. And I, for many years was in the field with him helping run equipment into all of that. And then as it continued to grow, my role changed more to more of the office work behind the scenes getting all of that stuff done.

Jaime White01:40

So when you first started, was there any type of agreement? Like here's how much I'm going to work? Here's how much I'm going to get paid as the

Stacie Forsberg01:49

absolute? Absolutely not. It was just, I think, an unwritten rule that you were just gonna give your all to the business, right? It was just, that's how it was gonna be?

Jaime White01:59

What have you discovered about yourself personally, since then?

Stacie Forsberg 02:06

Oh, where to start. I've discovered a lot of things about myself in the sense even with the business side of it, that I still wholeheartedly support my husband. But my role has changed as those rules change. And there's no written rules for how it's gonna happen. One side sometimes can get hurt, because all of a sudden, you're not doing what you used to do.

Jaime White 02:28

Well, if you think about it, it makes sense. Because if you were in the field with him, he could see what you were doing. It was very hands on, it was something that was very visible. And then when your role shifted, it's sort of like, well, how I mean, that was happening before you know what changed? Yes.

Stacie Forsberg02:43

And I think some of it too, is, I don't know what for every business, but there's any emotional health that comes when you're there in the field. So if something goes wrong, like you're right there, or if you need to run for something you can run or all those little things that happen to and when you're not there all of a sudden, who's gonna fill that role? Yeah.

Jaime White03:06

Right. And you start to find out how this impacts your personal life too. Because when you're in business together, literally, it's not like having a job in the same building together, right, like, coworkers. You're also taking it home. I mean, how do you separate that? How have you found that? What works? Well,


we're still working on that. I think it's, it's become difficult because, in our business, it is a seasonal business that has changed more into about 10 months out of the year. Usually, we're busy right before the farmers are busy in the spring. And right after the farmers are done harvesting in the fall, that has transitioned to about 10 months out of the year, until the ground is completely frozen. We are busy, like by busy. I mean from eight o'clock in the morning until often nine o'clock at night Taylor will be busy five to six days a week. And I realized that that was just too much for me personally, to be invested in a business, I wanted some more personal time. If that's the right way you say that time with my family time away from the business. I feel like our business is at a stage where it continues to grow. And we could take a few hours away from it. But it is difficult because when you come home, you want to talk business and when you're riding in the vehicle, you talk business. So it's

Jaime White04:27

or if you're going to take someone to the airport, you stop at a place to see if there was always an opportunity for a business trip.

Stacie Forsberg04:36

So it's a transition for me. I'm still learning very much about how to say no, I don't want to have that conversation right now. Let's have it tomorrow. I'm done. I'm done for the evening.

Jaime White04:47

It's interesting because one of the things that I've been hearing as I've been interviewing other business owners that have been able to transition into some of those next levels after startup or for early stages of the startup, the thing that I hear consistently is boundaries, you know, like, what are some of the things that I can say no to, and really need to say no to. So what you're saying speaks to some of the other things that I'm hearing. The other thing that I happen to know about you is that you have studied your own self a lot more. And, you know, feel more clear on who you are, what are some of the things that you've learned about yourself that help.


So that process started in 2010, around there when I started, learning more about myself, because of my children, my children needed some help. And I was trying to find help for them, and then realized, in the end, I think, who I really needed to help was myself. Through the therapy, we had an amazing therapist that helped me, and I, myself, just read the book, after book, podcast, after podcast, you know, blog after blog to learn more about how the human brain works, really, I had tons of interest in our past trauma. And like, when I first learned about it, it was called the reptilian brain or like the bottom file cabinet drawer away in the back, that you never open all this stuff in our subconscious that we don't know. That affects how we behave and how we react to things. That's especially what I see in my life how I react to things. And so even to bring that back to the business, it helps me to understand why Taylor does something, why I react a certain way, like, you know, you start learning about that trauma, learning about the things in your past. And not all of its trauma, some of its good, but usually, it's the trauma that affects us in a negative way. And so that's been amazing for me through the years, 12 years of learning and studying, and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. But I have loved to see the transition in myself, even to where I can react to something, but then I can catch myself instantly and be like, yeah, why did you do that? Right? Why? What caused that?

Jaime White06:56

Curious about it. Yep. I'm envisioning you starting this business together, you're literally out in the field. And sometimes then, the work and what you've committed to, I mean, when we make a commitment to something, especially if we've signed our name on something, or made an investment that requires us to show up, then it's like, all hands on deck rallying cry, you know, there's really no time to overthink things. It's just jumping in and doing right. But then after a little bit, that that only lasts for so long, that rallying cry, and then it's like, okay, actually, there's more, I'm gonna dig into this a little bit more. And so that's what I hear you saying is, is that maybe it was the family that led you to the therapy? And in a way, it could have been. Because? Was there any other support for them? Right? Like, as you said, maybe it was more you that needed it to begin with anyway, but it was showing up in the kid, right? And how often does that happen? Right, that our kids want to see us in a good place? And then when we're not, they start acting out? And then we think they're the problem? Really, it's because they see us as a problem.

Stacie Forsberg08:07

I have in all reality, yes.

Jaime White08:10

What are some of the things that you guys think about now, as your business has really stabilized? And as you've grown, what are some of the things you think about them?

Stacie Forsberg08:19

Really just how to continue the growth path it's on, but to not grow too fast, because in too fast of growth, I feel like the business overtakes us, and who we personally disappear. And that is one thing I think about a lot because I don't want me personally to disappear, I really try and learn to love who I am and what I bring to the table. So I don't want that person to disappear. So that's one thing that I think about a lot, is just growing, and maybe maintaining is the word more, but you still want to grow. So what's changed don't want to learn things like that, as you're, you know, maintaining a little bit. Yeah,

Jaime White09:01

I like what you're bringing out is, and what I want to think about a little bit is, we're, we're all made to grow. And so when we first start a business, so much growth is required, and then we get to that point of where maybe not quite as much growth is required. And so then we just want to keep what we have. And the reality is we're still made to grow. So what are some of those areas? And I feel like that's just a transition and thinking again, it's another growth opportunity because now maybe the way that we're meant to grow is it in how do I get more sales? How do I improve my processes? How do I hire people, you know, in a way that I need to like now some of those things you maybe have more comfort level with and now it's a new opportunity for growth? And like where how do I find my purpose in this next place? Those are similar conversations to other people that you know, are navigating the business. How do we grow but yet maintain I don't know if we can maintain it might be, might be, it's time for the next growth opportunity, what is something that you would wish you would have known early on if somebody else was starting in business with their spouse, what is something that you would have loved to have known

Stacie Forsberg10:16

to set the roles and be very clear and what each one of your roles is, because for me, you know, being out in the field, all the time helping to run equipment, was good. But then I also had to come home, and do all of the bookwork behind the scenes. And in my mind, I'm also a stay-at-home mom. And that was my first job. So I also had to be there 100% For six kids as our family grew, and be in the field to help that happen and get all the stuff done at home that a mom does at home, along with all the paperwork. So that is probably the biggest thing is I wish there would have been set roles that we both understood. We were going to do and here's what you bring to the table, and not that we can't do more, but at least we know, this is where we start.

Jaime White11:02

Right, right. I feel like it's it's like any business starting. No, I mean, we go to an attorney, maybe to help us draft up the LLC paperwork, but all that is just like writing, it's just writing on paper. You know, and, and we barely look at it, you know, it's like, hopefully, I don't need this. And so creating those roles and responsibilities feels like this huge piece. And even to the point where in any partnership, like I'm thinking about marriage, you know, we sign our name to the paper and say, Yeah, we're married, you know, we had a great event. But like, we're one of the roles and responsibilities sheets that we could fill about. Not just a business partnership, but a life partnership. Right. Same. And, so what you're speaking to, is something that's so important, but how do we actually make time for that? I mean, is that something that you feel like? Like what at what level? Would you encourage someone to make time for that today?

Stacie Forsberg 12:00

At the very beginning level, I think it's super important. I think as you mentioned, even in our marriages, I think it's one thing that we in our marriage have failed at. And I would like to do better in understanding what the roles are, and understanding even, maybe even not just what the roles are, but the amount of time it takes to get the roles complete. Because each one of those roles takes a different time. And that diff takes different time at different stages of our life, different months of the year, things like that. So fully understanding what the roles are, from the very beginning and understanding the amount of time the amount of effort it's going to take to complete them properly.

Jaime White12:39

Yeah, and the energy to like you like when you say time, I mean, there's a level of energy that different things take, they might not take a lot of time, but it might take a lot of energy. Yeah, you know, and I've mentioned to you a little bit I love in business, the visionary and the implementer model. And, you know, we have these visionaries, usually often in business where they had this great idea. And then just one idea can literally create years worth of work. So and then the implementer is often this behind the scenes. I don't know if you know, but Walt Disney, there's actually a Roy Disney. I never knew, you know, he's so behind the scenes. Did you know that? I don't think I did know. Yeah, like there was a Roy Disney that was literally running everything. Doing all the hiring, you know, the paperwork, the behind-the-scenes, and we don't hear his name. So then business owners and organizations don't realize that that's actually a model that is important, like, not recognizing that we're most of us are not self-made. And if you're the visionary, maybe there's some space for an implementer. And then let's work on the roles. Right? Yes. My favorite part is that the implementer gets the tiebreaker vote. So I let every implementer know that right up front. That's

Stacie Forsberg13:57

a very important thing to know and have that tie-breaking vote.

Jaime White14:01

Yeah, because even if you're in a 50/50 partnership, right in life and in business, I love to think of visionaries and their 10 ideas, but nine of them often need to be filtered. And so the implementer does usually a really good job of that they respected visionary. You know, there's, and this is happening in any business, but especially family business, and I feel like those roles are not defined, but if you had any other business, they would be given roles and responsibilities.

Stacie Forsberg14:28

Yes. 100%

Jaime White14:31

Is there anything that comes up that you would love to share with someone thinking about starting a business or in a family business in order to you know, maybe someone is in the same situation you were in or found yourself in a couple of years ago? What else would you share?

Stacie Forsberg14:43

For me, I love family business. I love that you can do it together. I love that you can share those ideas. I love that you can grow together in the process. So for me, I love that aspect. I struggle to have to go off to a different business. That's not my family business. I would not thrive in that environment. But it does come with a lot more challenges, I feel. Because you are for me, you're working with your spouse every day. A lot of your conversations stem around the business stem around all of that. And so learning how to have those set roles and learning how to know who's going to do what an early stage and even learning for me as a stay at home mom, like how do my kids whose needs get met, how does all of the work at home also getting that along with the work that you have to do for the business would be super important to talk about ahead of time and kind of know, you know, even if I've realized I used to think everything had to just be set in stone, and it was just going to be what it is. But I've really realized that as long as our brains can hear the concepts, they can hear the thought, and our brains can start to form different ideas and different opinions around it. So then when it comes up later, we can be like, oh, yeah, I get that I understand, you know, a lot of times the first time something is thrown at one of us an idea or an opinion, whatever it is, sometimes we can get our you to know, our backs up against the wall and be like, No, that's not right, you're wrong. What if we can slowly throw the idea out there and our brains start to hear it, then when it actually has to be implemented, it's a lot easier to implement.

Jaime White16:14

Yeah, that's so true. And what you're speaking to, is true, no matter what, in any type of change. And, you know, I love to study personalities, and there's a DISC personality profile. And the s and the disc stands for steadiness and that type of personality, what they bring is so much steadiness to an organization. And yet, the problem or the challenge can be, when we try and implement change, they're actually the people that we need to have on board with us because they're supporting the company. And change can be a threat to them. Because it's a threat to their security or a threat to their stability, you know, and so the more we can introduce the idea ahead of time, give our brains chance to think about it. Some people may need it more than others because some people thrive on change. Some people thrive on uncertainty, drama, and a little bit of adrenaline rush. And you know, when you have multiple personalities, being able to communicate that in advance and let the brain process it is definitely helpful.

Stacie Forsberg17:16

It is, and you know, I like personalities just as much as you enjoy, it's been really helpful for me in our business and our marriage, to learn the Enneagram and to know my husband's Enneagram number and mine because then I have learned how to look at what not just what our behavior is not just here's how we act. But to get to the root of it be like, here's the reason we act as we do. And if I can help to understand the reason why we act, there can be more patience offered and even more understanding to help the other person walk through it. Like maybe here's why we're doing this, can we look at a different option? So yeah, that's also been super helpful for me the last few years in our marriage and our business lot.

Jaime White17:58

It's amazing how much of that little bit of information slowly over time, you know, it's like, I remember you and I going back and, and being like, why is this coming up again. And the best part for you and I is that I have your husband's Enneagram number and you have my husband's Enneagram number. We can collaborate and be like, hey, is this actually an issue for you? And how do you process this?

Stacie Forsberg18:24

Very much so. And it's very beautiful. I love that we could bounce those ideas off of each other.

Jaime White18:30

Yeah, so that goes back to having some kind of a business bestie some kind of a support system, outside of being in the business. As much as I love to talk business within the family business. I also believe in having an outside perspective. When I worked with a coach in the past, I would be able to call that person, you know, and just be like, Oh, my word. This is come up again. What is this issue like on my face? And he would come from a totally different perspective. I think you needed that.

Stacie Forsberg18:57

Yes. And as you say that that's a lot what I get from you, since you're so much like Taylor, I can come to you and be like, Oh, help me understand. And it's sometimes a little bit different because you're a female, and he's a male, but yet you still can point me in the right direction and be like, Oh, maybe this, and I'll be like, sometimes I'm like, oh, no, we're not when I go in there. It's wrong. But then as I sit and think about it, I can be like, oh, yeah, okay, I get it. I understand. It just took me a little bit to get there. Well,

Jaime White19:25

I love that. And as you know, juggling family business here, we have our little guy, I get monster trucks, all the things. It doesn't work on a nine-to-five. Let's say it that way.

Stacie Forsberg19:36

I do love the family part of it because the family business is our kids as well. They are in all reality just as involved as we are. They might not be doing the physical work, but they're involved immensely with it. And I think it's good. So I love to see him sitting there. I think it's awesome.

Jaime White19:51

And your kids actually do work in the business. Sometimes they do what's going to happen when they're not available. He's having to hire different people.

Stacie Forsberg19:57

Yeah, yeah, we're having to hire different people. And, you know, it's, it's been a transition because as they're starting to graduate and leave the house now and move on to other options, they're not there even for the I just need you for two hours so we can get this done. They're not there to do it. And so some of that comes or also has to happen where you change things like maybe we're used to working until eight o'clock at night and now we just don't have the kids to come on help for two hours. So you have to quit at six when it gets dark or, you know, you have to change you have to be a little bit fluid due because they're no longer here to do it with us.

Jaime White20:34

Well, thank you so much.

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