How to run a business with your spouse: It’s a dream come true! You get to spend every day with your favorite person, you’re pursuing your goals together, and you’re creating financial independence for your family. It won’t be long until you’re sitting atop an empire and hobnobbing with Oprah and Mark Zuckerberg.
How to run a business with your spouse: It’s a living nightmare. You have to spend every waking moment with them and it’s driving you nuts. You can’t agree on how to run the business, you’ve taken out a second mortgage on your house and you’re worried your family is going to end up in the poorhouse. It won’t be long until you’re declaring bankruptcy and filing for divorce, not necessarily in that order.
How to run a business with your spouse: The reality lies somewhere in between these two extreme scenarios. To find that happy medium, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Here are some of the challenges you’ll face and how to run a business with your spouse successfully in spite of them.
Solution: It’s not a question of if you’ll disagree, but when, so create a plan to deal with it ahead of time. Start by discussing your vision for the business. If you want to work just enough to earn a reasonable salary, while your spouse has visions of starting the next Starbucks, you need to resolve that issue now.
You should also discuss how much of your personal finances you’re willing to risk and how you’ll divide up responsibilities in the business. Writing a business plan together forces you to work through these issues and creates a roadmap you can refer to when problems arise. Some married couples even draft partnership agreements.
Solution: As you plan your startup, consider how you want your life to look once your business succeeds, and tailor the business to fit your lifestyle goals.
During those inevitable startup stages when life seems to be all about the business, make time each day to reconnect as life partners—not business partners. Declare certain locations (like your bedroom) or times of day (like the family dinner hour) off-limits for business discussions.
Solution: It generally takes 12 to 18 months for a new business to start making a profit. If neither you nor your spouse is working during that time, what will you live on?
When you’re wondering how to run a business with your spouse, you’re probably extremely worried about finances. You can build up an emergency fund to use, cut living expenses, have one partner keep a part-time job, or some combination of all these. If you have children, it’s especially important to be prepared for financial ups and downs, so make sure you have enough startup capital to provide a cushion.
Solution: If too much togetherness is pushing you apart, make it a point to get away from each other once in awhile. Go for a run or hit the gym on your own, meet a friend for dinner, or just read a book.
When there’s no time for downtime, attending business or networking events solo can give you some space from your spouse. If you work at home, setting up separate workspaces or renting time in a co-working space can help.
The secrets of how to run a business with your spouse is different for every couple, but knowing how to deal with the common challenges above will give you a head start at success.