Starting a business with your spouse can be extremely rewarding as well as challenging. You’ll have an old friend as a business partner and can leverage each other’s strengths and share the workload.
The two of you can share in highs and lows of your startup on an extremely close level. Trust me, I know, having launched multiple companies with my husband over our decades of marriage. It will bring you closer together or tear you apart!
This blog post explores some of the pros and cons that come with this choice of becoming co-founders with your partner, husband, or wife.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Business with Your Spouse
THE PROS Of Starting a Business with Your Spouse:
1- Sharing in the highs and lows of a new business.
One of the best parts about starting a business with your spouse is that you get to share in all of it, not just the good stuff. As a result, the two of you can experience the joys and frustrations together on an extremely intimate level that most other entrepreneurs don’t have.
2- A unique bond.
Starting a business with your spouse creates a solid connection that’s hard to find elsewhere. Not only is there the shared passion for the product or service, but also the fact that you each have someone to rely on in both good and bad times truly. You can depend on your partner for support through thick and thin.
3- Peer support.
Another significant aspect of starting a business with your spouse is the opportunity for your business partner to be your number one fan. Good spouses are always rooting for you and ready to give advice, even if it’s unsolicited! Finally, you have someone who has a vested interest in your success and will be honest with you about what you can do better.
4-Having someone to brainstorm with.
Starting a business is highly challenging, especially when you do it with your spouse – husband or wife. However, there’s also the excitement of sharing in this entrepreneurial adventure together and bouncing ideas off each other. Sharing the fun of startup is invaluable for not only getting through the tough times but for exceeding all expectations and being successful. An Oklahoma State University research study estimates that 3 million of the 22 million U.S. small businesses in 2000 were couple-owned and have higher success rates than single founder firms.
5-Having a partner who is invested in the business.
The number one reason to start a business with your spouse is that they are invested in the company’s success as much as you are! They want to see it succeed just as much, if not more, than you do and will stop at nothing until you’re both reaping the benefits of all your hard work as a family.
You’re looking to start a family business. But you don’t know what kind of business to launch? Check out my list of the most profitable family business ideas here
THE CONS of Starting a Business with your Spouse:
6-The struggle of working so closely together.
Constantly being together is one of the biggest challenges when starting a business with your spouse. Not only do you need to find time outside of work for yourself, but it’s even more complicated because you’re spending most of your time together. In addition, the two of you can quickly become sick and tired of each other if you’re never apart for long enough to regain some space!
7-You can’t escape each other.
Sometimes, you need to get away from your partner and focus on work, or vice versa. You’ll have a hard time doing this if you’re working together for the same company you co-own because there will be no escape! No matter how much you try to do your own thing, you’ll end up working together on something. My trick was to take my laptop to the local coffee house or library for my business partner and husband’s needed mental and physical space.
8-You may have very different work ethics.
Sure, you get along great at home and are talented at what you do, but this doesn’t mean that the two of you will be on the same page when it comes to getting tasks done in your company. For example, you might struggle with procrastination or work late, but your partner might be the complete opposite and get everything done super-fast. These work traits are something that you should talk about before you start working together. It is OK to have different work styles; you need to accept each other’s habits.
9-You’ll have to interact with each other a lot.
While this can be great for a relationship, it can also be incredibly draining if you have issues or need some space. If you’re not careful, your relationship can suffer, and resentment will build between the two of you. Make sure that you have set up a schedule for when the two of you will be able to focus on work and when it’s OK to spend time together as romantic partners without talking about the business.
10-You might fight in front of the employees. Couple fights could turn into a PR nightmare if not handled properly, so make sure you set up a plan to deal with conflict before it arises. Even the most minor thing can become an issue in such a close-knit environment, so try to avoid disagreements when possible and set up ground rules if one of you is particularly sensitive or temperamental. For example, hubby and I had a rule that we would go outside and get into our car when we got into a fight!
11-You risk losing your entire investment.
If the business fails, you’ll lose everything you’ve put into it, which can lead to a lot of resentment between the two of you. Make sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to risk tolerance. If one partner is more willing to take risks while the other prefers stability, this can be highly problematic for the future success of your company.
12-You have less financial stability.
When both partners work in the business, one person has no steady paycheck from outside employment to stabilize your family finances which significantly increases the family’s risk exposure.
Tips For Working with Your Spouse as Business Co-Founders:
-The pressure is on.
Because you have someone to answer to now, the stakes are raised. You may feel that you’re expected to perform or contribute more than if it were just you by yourself. The expectations can be stressful but exciting and motivating too. So, both of you need to take time to destress to manage the pressure well.
-Be on the same page with communication.
When spouses are working together, there’s less room for miscommunication or misinterpretation of a project. It can also be difficult to convey feelings in a work setting, so make sure you talk about how much space you need when things get tense. Just as in marriage, in a family business, communication is critical. Talk often about everything.
-Make sure you talk about it throughout the relationship.
Talk about what it will be like to work together and how you will deal with potential issues that might arise before starting the business. Make sure you’re both on the same page before making any significant decisions.
-Set up a schedule for when you will be able to focus on work and when it’s OK to spend time together.
Figure out your boundaries early in the relationship so that neither of you feels taken advantage of.
-Don’t keep any secrets from each other!
For example, if something happens at work, let your spouse know about it right away. You might not want to worry them, or it might just not seem important enough, but this can lead to a lack of trust between the two of you down the road.
-If there are disagreements, try to figure out why they are occurring and make sure both parties feel heard before making any decisions.
Some people may need more time than others to cool off before discussing something, so make sure that you’re not rushing them.
-If one of you needs space and the other seems more controlling, it’s OK to put your foot down! However, if this does happen and one person is too overbearing, politely tell them that you need some time alone. They might get upset with you at first, but they’ll get over it.
–Remember that you’re a team!
You can’t always expect your partner to do everything you want them to do because, in the end, you both have the same goal: to run a successful business. If one of you disagrees with something, try working together until you can come up with an outcome that works for both of you. Problem-solving skills are critical. My husband and I often spent days discussing a work issue until we found a solution we could both agree on. This well-supported our marriage and company.
-Don’t get caught up in potential gossip!
While it can be tricky, try not to pay attention to what others say about you or your products. If someone is trying to tear your relationship (or business) apart, they’ll keep doing so even after the two of you have stopped caring. Keep your focus on the work and let others do their own weird thing. Usually, it is a plain old-fashioned case of jealousy of your success and happiness.
Checklist: Should You Start a Business with Your Wife or Husband?
-Do you have similar skills and complementary talents?
-Can you both handle working together 24/7?
-Have you talked about boundaries beforehand (i.e., when to work, how much money to invest)?
-Are you on the same page regarding the direction of the business and your family life?
-Are you able to keep your relationship (and any disagreements) separate from the business?
-Have you communicated how much space both of you need when things get tense?
-Are both of you willing to put in all the work this venture will take?
-Are you able to build a solid reputation as a team, or does one person seem more powerful than the other?
The most successful husband and wife business teams answered YES to most of these questions.
It is crucial to think about these things before making any final decisions because your business and relationship will be intertwined more than most married couples. If it turns out that both of you are willing to work through anything, then there’s nothing stopping you from entrepreneurial success.
When Starting a Business With Your Spouse is NOT a Good Idea!
-If you’ve only known each other for a short amount of time (less than two years).
-If either of you is too controlling or too passive.
-If neither one of you can handle working together 24/7.
-If you’re living beyond your means and one of you gets the other into debt.
-If either one thinks it will divide your relationship more than strengthen it.
-If one person believes they’re in control and makes all the decisions without consulting the other partner.
-If either of you feels like their contributions are undervalued.
Honestly, ask yourself and your spouse these questions to uncover underlying issues that could harm your business startup success and relationship.
Business Conflict Resolution Strategies for Romantic Partners
What to do if you have a disagreement with your spouse about the business:
-If you’re not on the same page with your spouse about the direction of the business, take some time to figure out exactly which path you want to take. Figure out what sets you apart and talk about how these differences can work together in a positive way.
-Try considering why it is that your partner feels so strongly about this decision.
-If you don’t see eye to eye about a particular aspect of the business, discuss whether it’s realistic that one of you could change their mind. Maybe make it a point to give it some time and see if you can come up with a compromise between the two of you before making any decisions.
-If it’s your partner who is starting to pull strings, try going back into a more supportive role and see if they’ll give you more space to contribute. If this doesn’t work, then speak up about how their behavior is making you feel.
-It may help both of you move forward if one person takes on the role of the leader. Leaders don’t take all the credit if this decision works out. It would be best if you talked about how both of your contributions are important. If it’s clear that both of you have different ideas on some aspects, then make those decisions equally or at least discuss them with each other first before making a final call.
Family and Work Balance Strategies for Married Couples
How to keep family and work separate, including how to set boundaries for communication (i.e., “I’m not working right now, so I don’t want to talk about it”)
-If you want to keep your relationship strong, it’s essential that you have some time where you are not talking about the business together. It can be helpful to set a schedule for when each of you is allowed to talk shop and then stick to it.
-One idea is to put on your space helmets – create boundaries by putting on a headset or leaving the room while you talk about business. Don’t laugh – this was my husband’s #1 strategy to stay married and in business together!
-If your partner makes too many decisions without consulting you, insist that they get your input before making further decisions. If this is still not respected, then express how that makes you feel and try to come up with a compromise together.
-Make sure you have time to spend with your family. Family together time is critical if you’re working with your spouse and don’t want any relationship issues spilling over into business life or vice versa. If spending time together as a couple or a family helps prevent complaining about each other at work, then make it happen!
-Make sure both of you have equal say about what decisions affect the company and what decisions do not.
-If you limit the time you spend together or choose not to work with your spouse, try not to let it cause problems in your relationship. Instead of talking about business 24/7, make sure that you still have fun and do other things as a couple. Then when you do talk about the company or work together, it won’t be as likely to cause arguments.
Entrepreneurial Couple Tips – to Stay Married and In Business Together
Here are proven tips on how spouses can support each other during the startup phase of their new business venture while balancing family responsibilities and maintaining personal interests and hobbies.
-If you have a disagreement with your spouse about the business and want to keep this issue resolved, make sure that both of you are taking time off to talk it through. If there’s a problem between both of you, then don’t try to fix it alone – take some time for yourself or maybe even as a couple.
–Get out of the company and hang out together! Go on a weekend getaway or even plan a family beach day. Recreation time can help you both feel more relaxed with each other so that when you do discuss business, it won’t seem like such a big deal.
–Come up with your own set of guidelines about how decisions will be made. Don’t leave it up to your spouse to decide how they want to handle certain things – make sure that you’re both on board with the plan beforehand.
-Don’t put down your partner if they are not good at something! If they are trying their best, that’s all that matters. Likely you have complementary skill sets that make for a stronger and more experienced team.
-If one of you is doing most of the work while the other seems uninvolved, then it might be time for a meeting. Discuss how you both feel and what can be done to improve the situation for both of you!
-If your partner is constantly stressed out or complaining about work, then it’s time to take a break. Try not to argue with each other – make sure that you’re spending quality time together so that when they are ready to talk business again, you’ll be back on the same page.
-Remember that everything you do together is an opportunity to learn from each other and work as a team – even if it’s just doing the dishes after dinner together.
Best Ways to Avoid Conflict with Your Spouse and Business Partners
Strategies on how spouses can avoid conflict in the future by setting up better expectations from the beginning and establishing ground rules for what’s appropriate when talking about work at home vs. outside of the house.
-Create a list of topics that are OK to discuss at home and outside of the house. Make sure that you both know what is allowed so you will be less likely to say something out of line by mistake. For example, we agreed never to discuss work during dinner. It was a safe zone to relax and recharge. It also helped my digestion.
-If your partner is always late and you can’t stand it, tell them! Maybe they’ll change their behavior as a result, or perhaps they won’t, but at least you gave them a chance to improve their relationship with you.
-If one of you is constantly stressed out about work, the other person should try to help. Give compliments and always offer encouragement! Praise is a powerful motivator and is suitable for your romance too!
-Don’t be afraid to tell your spouse if something bothers you! Talk it over like adults, and don’t let it fester inside of you. It can affect every part of your work life when a problem isn’t addressed.
-Create a list of business rules for how your spouse should behave at home. For example, you might be more comfortable with them talking about work during mealtimes, or maybe you’d rather not have to talk about it at all. Just make sure that they know what’s OK and what isn’t!
-Make sure that you listen to your partner when they need someone to talk to! You might be able to give them some great advice and help them figure out the best way to resolve their problems. Listening is an area where my husband excels. After talking with him, I come away feeling much better with lots of reasonable practical solutions.
Success Tips for Entrepreneurs Thinking About Starting a Business with their Spouse
-Don’t start a business with your spouse if you don’t see the relationship lasting. If you think it will end, it’s best to wait until everything is more stable before going into business together.
-Make sure that everyone involved knows what they’re getting themselves into! Not only should you be able to trust each other, but you should also be able to provide a stable income for your family.
–Make sure that your partner has the same outlook or is at least willing to work towards the same goals as you have! You might end up hating each other if they don’t share your thoughts about work, family, and money.
-Be honest! If you don’t trust your partner, then they probably won’t trust you either. If they know that you’re honest, then they’ll be willing to do the same for you.
-Make sure everyone agrees on what should be done and when! It’s straightforward for disagreements to turn into arguments, so solve problems as soon as possible. Smart couples write out detailed job descriptions to clarify roles and tasks.
-Remember that you’re a team! If one of you is tired or under the weather, take over their responsibilities. Make sure to constantly ask if they need help, so they don’t end up getting sick and taking on too much at once.
-Don’t talk bad about your partner when they aren’t around! You might think they won’t find out, but the chances are that your employees will tell them everything, so keep your negative thoughts to yourself.
-Work equally as hard and put in the same amount of time! If one person isn’t doing their part, then it’ll be impossible for you to do great business together. In the end, you don’t want to lose your marriage or the business.
–Remember that you’re a husband and wife before trying to become business partners! Don’t forget about your relationship and only focus on success. If you don’t make time for each other as a romantic partner, then your business might not work out very well in the end.
Starting a business with your spouse can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you want this venture to succeed, you’ll need to put in the time and work together as hard as you would on any other project.
The key is making sure that both spouses understand what they’re getting into before starting, so there are no surprises down the line.
If you’re thinking of starting a business with your spouse, there are some things that you should consider before diving in.
First and foremost, make sure that the relationship is going to last. If not, it’s best to put off starting anything until both parties have their lives more stable.
Next, think about what everyone involved wants out of this partnership–both from a professional standpoint and a personal one.
Lastly, don’t forget the importance of trust when working together on something so intense and potentially life-changing!
Finally, make sure that no matter how much time each person has for work or family matters outside the company/partnership, they still find time for one another because if not, then all might be lost at the end where marriage goes wrong.
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