For many couples, the thought of mixing business with loved ones might seem like a relationship danger zone that must be avoided at all costs. But it might surprise you, approximately 1.4 million businesses in the US are run by husband and wife teams, and that number is steadily growing.
Successful couple businesses such as Chumbak, ABL Workspaces, Sun Industries have proven that. More and more couples are starting to realise the benefits of a business partnership with their partner, why not get to spend more time together, work on a shared passion together and earn money-seems like a no brainer right?
Well, only if done right. So before diving into this decision, go over some crucial steps to avoid roadblocks later:
- Recognise If You Are Both Really Ready To Start A Business
Most partnerships often hinder due to one partner being all in while the other is on the fence, and with a partnership especially with your spouse, that might be the last thing you’d want. So before starting a business with your spouse, analyse the situation thoroughly, consider questions like is the business something you both are passionate about?
Do you both have the necessary time and financial resources it might take? How will this decision affect your personal life and marriage and finally decide if you’re content with those changes. Understanding the complete picture by discussing the pros and cons is a great starting point to avoid conflict or setbacks later.
It would be advisable to register your business as an LLC to avoid legal liability going forward. Nowadays, you can register your business very cheaply with new-age legal firms such as ZenBusiness.
2. Discuss Your Vision For The Business
If one wants to build an empire and the other wants a side business with just enough to earn a reasonable income and if one wants a slow and steady path and the other wants to take as many loans as it takes, difficulties are inevitable. Which is why it’s important to sit down with your partner and envision the business’ future and the degree and tolerance of risk.
A detailed business plan with a clear outline of specific goals, business formation expenses, development plan for the business and a contingency plan are just a few starters. Agreeing on the vision and big picture would ensure a shared perspective and long-term partnership benefits. If your views do not align, make sure to communicate if you ever start to see things differently to keep the business going to achieve the ultimate goal.
3. Be Clear About Your Fortes
Do you love being chatty around people while working, while your partner likes to work alone in peace? Do you focus best in the morning, while your spouse is a night owl? Do you tend to focus on the bigger picture, while your spouse touches on every detail? Sounds tricky to do business with such varying personas right? Well not if you’re smart about it!
Start with accepting differences, remind yourself of the benefits of different people working together, different ideas, perspectives and examples of numerous drastic partners who’ve gone far with their business. Secondly, assess both your strengths and weaknesses, a personality assessment could be helpful! After understanding your strengths, it would be easier to find and focus on areas where you complement each other and could play to your strengths as a married couple LLC.
“We’ve also found our skill sets and strengths complement each other. While they are very different, it allows us the autonomy to excel in our individual areas of expertise and then come together, working as a team” - Tom and Dianne Knapp, WIN Home Inspection
4. Define Roles Within The Company
Don’t come to this step without undergoing the previous steps of understanding each other’s skill sets and preferences, once that’s out of the way, define your specific roles. If one of you is better with numbers, stick to the spreadsheets, if the other is great with people, stick to the people person roles.
If one comes up with more creative campaigns, let them take that arena but make sure to recheck with the other to ensure the finances are sufficient and the project is feasible, i.e in short work to play to your strengths as a couple. To make it clear who’s responsible for what, detailed job descriptions with a clear outline of duties and expectations can come handy.
Make Sure To:
- Prioritise A Stable Work-Life Balance
If you talk to any couple who run a business together, their first piece of advice would be to keep work and home separate. So remember to create healthy boundaries between the two, don’t talk about work at home or vice versa. Decide certain times of the day such as dinner time that are considered off limits for business discussions. Remember to invest extra time to reconnect as life partners occasionally.
- Focus On Your Hobbies
Spending time at work and at home can be great, but it’s alright to want a break at times to avoid burnout. Set time aside to focus on things that you enjoy- meet up with a friend, hit the gym, start a new hobby, or take a solo trip! This would provide you both with an opportunity to add some balance to your busy schedules and you’ll be surprised with the crazy ideas your refreshed self will come back with!
“We make sure to constantly carve out time for ourselves. Both of us have our own lives outside of the business, and even outside of our marriage. We try to actively keep up with the hobbies that bring us happiness and help us escape from the stresses of the world” - Michael and Mecca Elliot, Namaste Nail Sanctuary
- Not Act Like Each Other’s Boss
Remember you’re equals, in both the relationship and the business so once you’ve outlined the expectations, trust your spouse to do their half. Micromanaging or acting authoritative can indicate to your partner you’re not confident in their abilities and create rifts.
Starting a business with your spouse can be one of the most challenging yet gratifying things you can do. A business partner who is your favourite person will surely come with laughter and tears, celebrations and annoyances.
So make it a point to commemorate your successes together, party during milestones, laugh at annoying customers and toast to the fact that you’re working together towards a common goal with your life partner.
While difficult, with readjustment, communication and flexibility, it's possible to start and run a successful business with your spouse that can also work wonders to deepening your relationship!
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