BY Emmanuel Zvada
STARTING and having your own business is already a challenge and making it sustainable and professional takes work. Today’s article will unpack whether working with your spouse is really a bad idea or it’s just an entrepreneurship myth. If both of you play your cards right, a shared business can be a wonderful shared venture that allows you and your spouse to appreciate each other more. Running a business together with your wife can be a great opportunity to learn more about each other but certainly has its challenges as well.
No to one-size-fits-all approach
It should be very clear to the readers when reading this article that we actually don’t have a position as it is situational. No one can tell if running a business with your spouse is a good or a bad idea. It works differently for everybody as it depends on the people and their individuality. Therefore, the only thing you can do is analyse your significant other as you would analyse a potential business partner you just met. If you don’t have a strong relationship with your spouse, don’t go into business together, especially if both of you have dominant personalities but at the same time if you feel you can treat each other with respect, I am sure you are both going to make it just fine.
Assess your compatibility
To those who want to give it a try, your first step should be to determine how compatible you are if you are working together as a couple. No two people are a perfect match by nature. It’s absolutely normal for you to feel difficult sometimes, especially when you find a number of big differences between you and your partner. But that does not mean you are not compatible with your partner. How do you and your spouse handle working together on everyday projects? If you don’t have a great track record of collaborating, it’s important not to venture into business together.
Separate work from personal life
If you are in business with your spouse, the lines between work and personal life can become blurry, moreso if you are working from home. To ensure a healthy work-life balance, set clear business hours and respect them. As many couples working together have experienced, it is easy to let the business take over your whole life. This is detrimental to both your individual well-being and your family’s life. Set weekly or monthly meetings where you discuss the most important issues related to your business. In the dedicated time-span, you can also brainstorm solutions for existing problems and give each other feedback.
Set boundaries between marriage and business time
It is good for couples to set boundaries between their marriage and business. Setting boundaries for yourself in marriage means setting limits on conflict. When it comes to work, emotions should be detached and all decisions should be purely based on the company’s goals and objectives, not personal relationships. One of the ways to do that is to have separate offices and setting schedules for work to be done. Also, make sure that you choose your time carefully not to ruin quality time with your family. This is a tip that is equally important for couples who do not work together: Enjoy quality family time. l always advise couples to discuss this when starting a business together so that their home issues will not affect their work.
Have well-defined roles and responsibilities
Dividing responsibilities can also help you avoid the conflict of both trying to do the same thing, but having different ideas on how it should be done. So you have to agree on specific roles and responsibilities for each of you. Division of labour will create order and structure for your business. Also, it will ensure that you will not step on each other’s toes. Assign the designated tasks by playing up to your strengths. If you are great with people, take over the human resources-related responsibilities. If your spouse is great with documents and the legal framework, let them handle that. In that regard you should stay open to feedback and suggestions from your spouse.
Learn to resolve conflicts amicably
Whatever the cause of disagreements and disputes at home or work, these skills can help you resolve conflict in a constructive way and keep your relationships strong and growing. No couple can live together without having conflicts from time to time. When they own a joint business, they should expect more conflicts due to different backgrounds, management styles, and sometimes education. What is important when they decide to do business together is to communicate their differences and resolve them healthily such as they would do at home if there was no business relationship. When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people.
Make it clear who makes the final decision.
Decide on who is “The Real Boss”. Despite all the talk about equality, there comes a time when a major decision must be made. When there is a tie, then one of you must have the authority to make the final decision. Communication is essential in all areas of life and it lies at the foundation of a happy marriage and a successful business relationship. Therefore, make sure that you talk over everything before making a final decision.
Do not hesitate to bring up any concerns you may have. This will show that you trust your partner. However, refrain from using an accusatory tone.
But when you are running a successful business with your spouse, it can present a whole new level of challenges.
The business challenges you will experience will influence your marriage, and your marriage will impact your business. Some of the challenges that can be found when husbands and wives work together include:
Failure to balance home and work issue and vice versa
When running a business with your spouse, business and personal can never be separated. Even though, for many, creating their own schedule has proved better for achieving work-life balance. If you and your partner work and live together, the likelihood that business-related stress will affect your home life is likely. Although it can be beneficial to have your spouse completely understand your work-related stress, it can also create tension when you spend too much time together, or are under significant pressure due to your business. If you work and live together, it is likely that the stress caused by the business will affect your home life and you will find yourself during family time talking about business. It can be hard to distinguish boundaries between family issues and business matters.
The business could fail if the marriage fails.
Simply put, starting and running a business with your partner may seem like an exciting venture to get into, but try to be realistic about what could go wrong. Work and home life balance is something that any successful business woman or man needs to think about. If you think it’s not hard separating your work life and home life before, try starting a business with your partner. What will happen to the business if your relationship doesn’t work out? If you have a different job from your partner, you have every peace of mind that if you get a divorce, your job is still safe. When you own and run a business with your spouse, divorce in your relationship could mean that the business fails in the end.
Starting a business with your spouse can be extremely rewarding as well as challenging. Maybe some of you couples out are considering going into business with your spouse because the economy is tough right now and you may end up on the corporate trash heap. But think long and hard colleagues before you share your bed and your company with one person. Starting a business with your spouse can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you want this venture to succeed, you will need to put in the time and work together as hard as you would on any other project for it to be a success.
- Emmanuel Zvada is an award winning 2020 Most Fabulous Global HR Practitioner, HR Disrupter and Trusted Coach.