Thinking of going into business with your significant other?
Married couples in business together have extreme opinions when asked about it. It’s either the best thing that happened to them, or the worst. Very few couples (if any at all) are indifferent about running a business with their spouse.
If the former, the couples end up writing books on “how to run a successful business with your spouse”, and fly around the world lecturing people on how to attain this perfect partnership balance.
If the latter, the couples usually end up in a long-winded divorce, battling about who did what in the business, and who deserves to get more. I’m sure we all know at least one or two people who’ve gone through this.
But what happens when a couple sees themselves heading down an ugly path, but truly wants to save the marriage? One person will usually end up leave the business to let the other run it. Only then, can they work on salvaging their marriage and actually succeed.
Being able to successfully work with your spouse depends on many factors. By no means is it easy. But if you do decide to do it, make sure you have at least these 5 things in common with each another:
1. Equally committed to the business.
Successful partners are equally devoted to their business. Yes, one may appear to be the outward driver, but in reality, both partners are dedicating equal time and energy to growing their business. They feed each other power and energy in their own respective ways. But if one is constantly trying to grow the company, while the other is content with stagnancy and complacency, resentment and anger will build, and the marriage or business (or both) may fail.
2. In roles suited for each other.
Oftentimes when a young couple starts a business together, they end up in their respective roles whether they like it or not. If at some point one or both of the partners realize they are not suited for the position, the couple has to make a decision. Either switch roles, or step away. Staying in a role that is proving detrimental to the business will only hurt the business – and ultimately the marriage. It’s not easy to admit that you are not cut out to running (a certain aspect of) the company that you helped build. But if the goal is to build a successful business, you need to leave pride out of the equation.
3. Have the same vision for the company.
Just because you are committed to spending the rest of your lives together, it doesn’t mean you have the same goals or vision for your company. If one wants to remain a mom-and-pop shop, while the other wants to take their business internationally, you’ve got a huge problem. It’s impossible for a company to evolve when the visions are not aligned.
4. Respect each other.
Have you ever come across a married couple that deeply respected each other in their business, but had zero disrespect for each other personally? What about vice versa? Probably not. Happily-married couples that start a business together usually end up respecting each other even more, or losing respect entirely. Personal and business respect go hand-in-hand for a married couple. Couples will likely lose respect for each other if they consistently disagree on how to run the business. An easy way to find out if a couple respects each other is to ask their employees. They are the first ones to sense it and can usually foresee if the couple will last. The sad part is, a marriage that may have worked pre-business partnership, will likely fail once they lose respect for each other in business. Once lost, it’s nearly impossible to get back.
5. Know how to shut off.
Running a business is difficult and stressful enough. Add marriage to it? That’s quite the challenge. When a couple knows how to turn off the business switch and enjoy their personal lives, they are one step ahead of the game. But unfortunately, most couples that work together can’t shut it off. Their entire lives revolve around their business. In fact, the only moments where they really have time talk about their business issues are when they are eating dinner or lying in bed! The problem escalates further when one spouse wants to shut it off, and the other one can’t – and won’t.
Running a business with your spouse can be extremely challenging – especially if you married your opposite (they do say opposites attract, don’t they?). Think of it as trying to juggle 2 marriages simultaneously. You can imagine how much effort that entails 🙂