Running a business with your spouse is not for the faint of heart! Everyone wants a successful business but getting there is not a walk in the park. You will cry. Stress will be present, and you will ask yourself, “why did I choose this path?” (especially during the first year). However, if you are an entrepreneur, you will be willing to ride it out and have the patience to go from a seed to a sapling. Entrepreneurs train themselves to know that the benefits of working for themselves outweigh the difficulties.
Why should I build my own business?
Being your boss means you get to do things your way! And the freedom that comes with being able to manage your life and your time is incomparable. There are many benefits of having a business partner versus having the sole proprietorship of a business. If you are married to someone who shares your passion for entrepreneurship, then the benefits double!
Why is it such a good idea to create a joint business venture with your spouse? Imagine being a family who can spend their time as they see fit! You can achieve this by building a husband-wife team. Working for yourselves means having time to be more present in each other’s lives and creating a dynamic routine that makes sense for you as a couple and as a family. If you have children, you can make time for their school functions and be a present part of their daily lives! It does not mean parents who work for a boss cannot do this. However, being an employee of someone else’s company sometimes requires more flexibility regarding schedules and timelines.
Starting your own business also means channeling your creativity into something you enjoy doing! Spending your days working on something of your own is a true luxury. It also means you can use your unique gifts and talents to create something meaningful. What you build might become a family legacy and improve future generations’ lives. Being a married couple who manages to build several successful small businesses (or one substantial successful business) together is hard, but it is possible!
So what do you need to build a qualified joint venture? In this article, you will find 12 tips showing you the best way to run a business with your spouse. All while making sure your marriage is strengthened throughout the process.
1. Have an emergency fund in place.
During the past few years, we have learned that there is no way to foresee the future. None of us have a crystal ball, and many things are out of our control. We are not immune to emergencies. So, one of the most intelligent decisions you can make as a family is to have an emergency fund set up. Whether you have already started working with your spouse or still have separate incomes, having an emergency fund will bring you peace of mind. Knowing that you can cover your expenses if a period of financial distress presents itself is priceless. Being financially set up for some time until you find a way to start generating income again is the primary purpose of having an emergency fund.
The amount of money that makes up an emergency fund may vary depending on your needs. Finance gurus like Dave Ramsey have detailed guides on starting an emergency fund and recommend beginning with at least one thousand dollars. After you have the initial one thousand dollars saved, you should set aside the amount it would take you to cover your household’s basic living expenses for 3-6 months. Once you save this money, you will have a fully funded emergency fund. Having this money saved up will require sacrifice. But it will also give you the tranquility of knowing that you can rebuild your financial life after an emergency without slipping into debt or getting caught in the never-ending spiral of increasing interest rates.
Do some research!
Please take the time to find a savings account that gives you high-interest rates as a benefit of having your emergency fund money with that bank. That way, you can make a small profit from having that money saved up for an unforeseen crisis.
Money-related issues are among the leading causes of divorce, and business ventures require extra careful planning. Not having an emergency fund set up forces many small business owners to close their shops. So, making sure you have an emergency fund will take the edge off and allow you and your spouse to focus on building a business and working towards ensuring its success.
2. Get an office as soon as possible.
The setting in which we work is essential for focus and better time management. Have a place designated solely for work to ensure that you can separate work time from fun family time. Separate areas for different family activities will help you be more focused and enhance everyone’s mood. One of the key elements when building a business with your spouse is understanding that life is more than work! Although your business might become a significant part of your life, it must not become the most important part of your life.
Order is beneficial for our brains. Designate an office space to improve productivity and organize your tools and documents accordingly. Simple things like having drawer organizers or cleaning out your desktop can go a long way and help you feel calmer during work hours.
Decorating the office is a fun couple’s activity. Decide if your style is more minimal or cozy, and then style accordingly.
Work with what you have.
If you currently live in a space where you do not have a spare bedroom to turn into an office, please don’t worry! There are always ways to find creative solutions and work with what you have (this is a vital part of being an entrepreneur). You do not have to spend a massive amount of money on this if it is not within your means to do so at the moment. Small steps like having a table to work on, comfortable chairs, outlets, and storage space, will make an excellent starter office!
If you have to work in the dining room while you can have a designated office space, make sure you make your table as pleasant as possible. Take time to clear out the plates and light a candle before you work to ensure your brain shifts to focus mode before you start. If you work in a space that stresses you out, you will generate more cortisol, and your body will have a more challenging time being creative and staying productive. Make sure to surround yourself with items that make you happy, whether working from an improvised office or having hired an interior decorator to create the co-working office space of your dreams.
3. Know your business personality types.
Working with your spouse means you will have someone next to you who has a different personality than your own. Being a duo means having two individuals bring a unique set of talents to the table. It also means you will have to be extra tolerant to avoid conflict. Knowing your significant other’s personality type will significantly impact your work dynamic.
Having different personalities working together is fundamental to creating a solid team and will give you a better chance at building a successful company. Each spouse will be able to bring something different to the table. A mix of talents can look like a strong work ethic, creative problem-solving, and assertiveness. Understanding your personality types when doing business and in the workplace helps you capitalize on your various talents. It also avoids the stressful situations of not knowing how your personality type affects your business.
There are different ways to classify work personalities. You can research online and find various tests to help determine your business personality. Knowing and understanding the different work styles you and your spouse have will benefit your work together and your marital life in general. You will avoid unnecessary miscommunication. Develop empathy for your significant other. And appreciate them for the unique individuals that they are!
4. Clearly define your roles.
Yes, teamwork makes the dream work. However, building a team is more challenging than one might think. If you think all you need to start working with your spouse to build a business is getting together and starting, think again! One of the most important (and most often overlooked) aspects of creating said team is: clearly defining each person’s role and responsibilities within the organization.
Doing so will give you a clear idea of what you need to do and help you stay motivated and accountable! When you know your tasks, it is easier to get them done promptly, even when working under stressful circumstances.
Clearly defining roles also means that each teammate can manage their own time and hours. Defined roles and responsibilities (and honoring them) will give each of you more control over your schedule and allow you to tackle other household tasks more effectively. When each person knows what needs their attention, no one needs to take the role of the nagging spouse. None of us want to be constantly in charge of micro-managing and reminding the other person of what needs to happen.
5. Define your investor type based on risk tolerance:
Risk tolerance refers to the loss each partner is prepared to handle when making investments. Based on this criterion, we can classify investors into three categories: conservative, moderate, or aggressive.
To define yourselves, you will need to consider your future investment plans. What is the ultimate financial goal of building a business for each of you? To answer this, you must consider your age, health levels, previous financial commitments, and the size of your existing portfolios.
Conservative investors usually go for the safest options with the least risk associated with an investment. For example, they prefer to keep most of their capital where little to no peril is involved. For instance, in a certificate of deposit or a PPF (Public provider fund), the bank will give them yearly interest for not withdrawing their money or making monthly deposits. They will prioritize reducing the probability of loss over the possibility of investing in something that might yield higher profit margins.
Moderate investors will keep a balance between risky and safe investment choices. Their portfolios might vary between bonds, fixed-income investments, or real estate (a conservative investor’s go-to) and things that might be more vulnerable, such as stocks, equities, or foreign currency exchange.
Aggressive investors are natural-born risk-takers. They are usually well-versed in the market and are willing to take high levels of risk while investing. Investors that fall under this category tend to go after an opportunity, fully aware that there might be high loss levels. Yet they still prefer to risk an amount of capital in exchange for the promise of possibly being able to strike gold! One of their characteristics is that they are not intimidated by seeing large upward or downward movements in their investment portfolios. They are the most likely to see very high levels of return on their investments but prepare themselves to take significant losses without getting demoralized.
6. Discover your strengths and weaknesses.
It is crucial to keep in mind that no two individuals are identical. The things that set us apart are the ones that make us who we are and add value to our existence. Determining your strengths and weaknesses will help you better understand yourself and your capacities.
To define your strengths, consider the things that come naturally to you. Try not to focus on the qualities you would love to develop but on the ones you have already mastered. Once you identify your strengths and share them with your spouse, you can put them to the service of your business and use them as support for leverage to push yourself further.
The same thing happens with weaknesses. Rather than seeing them as things that might be detrimental to our business success, we can reframe how we perceive them to turn them into something we can improve. Try not to focus on eliminating your shortcomings (this might become an unnecessary source of stress) but instead try to find creative ways of working around them.
An added benefit of having your spouse become your business partner is that you will learn from each other’s strengths and help each other overcome your weaknesses.
7. Balance praise and constructive criticism:
There is a sweet balance spot between praise and constructive criticism. Managing to achieve it is fundamental to building a successful marriage and business partnership. Tilting too much toward either side of this equation might result in confusion and an inability to improve. Being honest and vulnerable when discussing what you need to improve is a great way to set the tone for constructive criticism to be presented to your spouse without deflating their spirits. Remember to be specific when giving your perspective on what your significant other can improve. Generalizations and feedback that is too broad tend to create tension and make it harder to know what to fix.
Balancing this with giving praise as soon as you notice something worth praising will create a positive environment that will allow ideas to flow and solutions to be found in creative and innovative ways. Take the time to genuinely observe your partner, notice the little things, and compliment them. Be thankful that you can build the business of your dreams with someone you love and respect! Let them know that you are grateful for their presence and that their input is a valuable part of your partnership and performance. Motivating each other will ensure that you stay on top of your game and have the loving nudge of someone who is constantly rooting for you.
8. Have a sense of humor and keep the mood light.
There is more to life than business and money. Could you make time each day to remind yourself of this? We want you to know that keeping this crystal clear will ensure that the mood in your household and office is light and pleasant. It might sound cliché, but when issues arise, it is essential to remember that you and your spouse are against the problem and not you are against each other.
Working while keeping the mood light will create a positive environment for your relationship and your business endeavors. Being able to laugh and find humor in tense situations will reduce stress and add a much-needed dose of humanity and good vibes to your life and company. Your mental health will benefit from this, as will your professional and personal performance.
Remember that not all types of humor will be beneficial and that you must consider your spouse’s personality when cracking jokes. If your significant other tends to be more sensitive, they will probably not appreciate aggressive jokes that pick at things that make them feel insecure. Go for humor that will bring joy to your spouse.
9. Make sure you both agree on the vision and big picture:
One of the most important factors when determining if a relationship will be successful is having similar long-term goals. Your idea of success should align in terms of family, money, career, location, the type of business you would like to run, etc. Make sure you and your spouse make time to define what each one of you thinks the definition of a happy life is.
Having a shared vision of where you see your relationship, family, and business going will give you a clear north to follow. Set aside time to discuss your business plans and goals and discuss what you envision as a successful marriage and long-term business partnership.
Communicating about these things while having each other’s back will be a pillar in your relationship. It is also essential to plan to foresee possible accidents or unfortunate scenarios like the death of one of the business partners. Please make sure you research life insurance and set a buy-sell agreement to protect your family business in case of a tragedy. The last thing you want to do if an unexpected disaster knocks on your door is to think about these things. Which is why planning them ahead of time is crucial. Prioritize planning ahead and effective communication with your partner from the beginning of your business relationship to protect your family life.
10. Work-life balance.
The 2020 pandemic brought many changes, one of which is that people now tend to focus more on achieving a work-life balance versus just focusing on a high-paying salary. We are all up for these changes! Finding work-life balance is a must and is also an art form. Since working from home became more normalized, it has been harder to mentally detach from work and be entirely present for home activities. Sadly, long hours in front of the computer have become the norm. It is hard for some to cook or have dinner as a family without having to check their emails or run mental to-dos for the next work day. Spending too much time focused on work means long hours away from our loved ones. When this happens, personal life tends to be affected. Keep in mind that you should always try to prioritize your home life.
This balance between business and personal lives is vital when doing business with your spouse! Remember that although your marriage and business partnership are intertwined, they are separate entities, and you must treat them as such. One of the best things you can do to work towards this balance is to connect as a couple (not just as business partners) and spend quality time together. Quality time will improve your performance, productivity (and time alone as partners). Making time for you as a couple will ensure you become an excellent business partner for your spouse (while remaining best friends). Increasing the love and connection between the both of you will also positively affect the rest of your family members.
Managing Stress Effectively:
Being a business includes a dose of stress; however, if you know that you have a safe space to unwind with your partner in your home, you are more likely to avoid burnout and maintain better health. Could you ensure that a business goal that gets attention is to respect your work schedules and not overdo them for your partnership and your mental peace?
Be mindful about spending time together engaging in activities that you both enjoy and that have nothing to do with work! Plan fun date nights together to treat yourselves. The best thing you can do to reward your hard work is to prioritize fun times together. This way, you will both show up motivated and ready to tackle tasks ahead when it is time to focus on business.
11. Celebrate all your goals and successes as they happen.
We have all heard stories of people who wait too long to use a perfume, candle, or fancy tea to find out that the item they were saving for a special occasion has expired from the extensive wait! Don’t let this happen to you! Make sure you celebrate successes as they come.
There are many ways of celebrating. We are not looking to encourage irresponsible lavish expenses to celebrate milestones. Simple ways to honor achieving goals do not have to involve breaking the bank or going into debt. Acknowledging that there is something to celebrate is sometimes enough. Celebrations can look like having coffee together in the garden, going out for a picnic, or treating each other to your favorite dessert or movie theater. Make sure you find creative ways to find happiness amid the routine.
Creating a business is more about the journey than the actual destination. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Doing so will make the difference between feeling as though you are eternally grinding and genuinely enjoying every step of the way.
12. Make an effort to engage in separate hobbies.
We have thoroughly discussed the importance of having common goals in a relationship and a business partnership. However, other things will make your love grow. Missing each other is also an important factor! It might be hard to miss each other if you work and live together because this will mean you spend significant amounts of time together. Therefore, taking the time to find things you each enjoy individually is essential.
Even if it seems counterintuitive, spending time apart benefits your relationship. You will learn to appreciate each other’s differences by having different interests and hobbies. Having something that each of you enjoys will allow you time to decompress and relax. Separate hobbies will also remind you that although you are a part of a marriage and a business partnership, you also have a personal life and your interests and dreams. When you are on a plane, the stewardess always emphasizes that you must secure your oxygen mask before attempting to help someone else put on theirs during an emergency. The same principle applies to all areas of life.
Prioritize filling your cup!
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and after spending time apart, it will be easier for you to reconnect and enjoy your time together. If one of you tends to be clingier than the other and insists on spending tremendous amounts of time together, this might indicate something underlying that needs attention. Reassuring your partner and having open, honest conversations about why time spent apart is necessary will positively affect your relationship dynamic and your business partnership.
Relationships are a lot like businesses. They both need care, attention, and devotion and will be subject to unforeseen situations that might cause stress and turmoil. Implementing the tips in this article will make navigating the conflicts that arise in relationships more manageable for you. Following these guidelines will help prevent problems from appearing rather than dealing with them head-on. It will also help you grow together through the ups and downs of running a business versus growing apart.
Excellent article. Complete and landed. I recommend these 12 tips not only to couples who are planning to start a business together, but also to anyone looking for one or more partners to start and run a business together. And, it is that although lone wolves are usually tremendously successful, the truth is that they are very rare. Wolves typically work in packs to be truly successful.
Thank you so much for your comment! You are right. Like the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.