Starting your own business can be incredibly rewarding but also extremely difficult. However, what happens if you start a company with your spouse? The well-known adage says “never mix business and pleasure” but could there be benefits to working with your loved one. The truth is somewhere in the middle. This type of team up can work well but there are potential pitfalls along the way. It’s a decision that needs to be completely informed before you take the first step.
Before embarking on a joint business venture with your spouse, you should agree on some mutual ground rules. They may not seem too important to begin with but they can become increasingly beneficial as the business grows. The amount of ground rules that you create will differ according to specific circumstances but issues such as funding, working hours and roles within the business are important. It may even be worth getting all of these details in writing, so both of you have a hard copy to refer to when/if any friction may arise. It may seem overly formal to create this type of paperwork with your spouse but it will help to keep the business healthy and stop professional disagreements spilling over into your personal relationship.
Talking about separating your personal life from your professional, this is key for those who are both spouses and business partners. It can become very easy for work to take over, particularly if you’re based at home. When work is too important, personal life suffers and resentments can build. This isn’t good for the relationship or the business. It’s therefore beneficial to set up some boundaries in order to keep both sides of your life separate. This could include renting an office space or assigning a designated office space within the home. If you do have to work from home, stick to set working hours and give yourself an opportunity to switch off. It’s also important to spend time apart from each other and away from work, for example taking up a hobby or joining a group. Boundaries help to stop work life from dominating, which can be particularly problematic when you work with your spouse.
One of the deciding factors for starting a business with a spouse is the skills that you both possess. The ideal scenario would be complimentary skills, where you both bring something different to the table. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and this isn’t always going to be the case. However, there needs to be some basic knowledge of business, for your company to flourish. For example, you may both be creatively talented but you will also need someone who is good with finances. If one of you works better behind the scenes, you’ll need someone front of house, to represent the business. Before setting up your company, ascertain which aspects of work will be delegated to which person. What roles will you both take and how will this benefit the business?
When it comes to conflict within relationships, money is often a huge factor. However, finances are even more pertinent when you run a business with your spouse. The pressure of making enough money, paying your bills and saving can be particularly hard when you’re self-employed. Every entrepreneur should ensure they have enough funding before starting a business. However, this is even more important when you’re working with your significant other. It’s so easy for the professional to become personal, and conflict within a relationship will only hurt the business.
As we have discovered, when it comes to working with your spouse, there are many things to consider. However, when it works, it can really pay off. If you manage to avoid the bumps along the way, you could end up owning a successful business with the most important person in your life. A strong working relationship can lead to a stronger personal relationship, with both partnerships flourishing.