What started as a nice relaxing dinner, turned into quite an ugly evening. “We decided that night that we couldn’t work together anymore,” they admitted. Is this the normal way married business partners act?
This would be enough to discourage any couple contemplating this business arrangement to reconsider. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When my husband and I decided to start our business, we asked one big question: Can we work together?
We had been married for 32 years and had to really do some major thinking and planning before we moved ahead with that idea. The last thing we wanted was to have our marriage destroyed or turned into a miserable existence. We didn’t want to lose what we worked so hard to achieve.
Before you and your spouse decide to become business partners, you might want to:
Have an open, honest discussion. I must repeat that. Open and honest.
Ask the big question: Can we work together?
List each person’s strengths. This will help you decide who should be responsible for what areas of the business.
Determine if you will be a woman-owned business. Many men have an issue with this, so it’s a topic that is very important to cover very early.
Talk about titles. It’s amazing how many times this causes an issue.
Write the business plan together so you are on the same page and going after the same goals. If you aren’t going in the same direction, you’ll be going backwards.
Discuss how you will handle a stand-off; how will a decision be made if you are on completely different sides of an issue (food fights are not recommended).
Agree on some time away from each other, according to your needs. It can be as small as a few drinks with friends once a month to a planned week-long vacation alone.
Set parameters. If you find you’re talking about nothing but business, agree on a set time of day when your business stops and your family times begins.
When you enter into a business relationship with a spouse, it is a 24/7 commitment. You work together, play together, eat and sleep together. Maintain the respect and friendship that you have as a couple, and carry that over into your working relationship. Be sure you’re always completely honest with each other and keep the lines of communication open. If you don’t, you might get a hard crust roll thrown at you at dinner.