Running a business with your spouse: A dead-end or golden opportunity

September 09, 2021

Benefits and drawbacks of running a business with a spouse

Owning a business is a big enough risk in itself but running a business with your spouse can set all alarms off. Is working with your spouse really a bad idea? Or is this another myth of entrepreneurship

We have already prepared you with the costs of doing business, filing taxes for your business for the first time, but what to do when it comes to starting a business with your spouse? Simply stay away from unfounded opinions, especially from those coming from people who have zero expertise in the matter.

To help you make a rational decision if owning a business with your spouse is a journey you want to be a part of, we’ve listed the pros and cons of running a business with your spouse. So, read them carefully and see if the benefits outweigh the negatives for you

Benefits of running a business with your spouse

Someone said to always look on the bright side of life, so let’s start with the benefits of running a business with your spouse. Let’s go through the values it can bring to your business and to your marriage as well.

It can give a new dimension to your marriage

According to many, being business partners as well as spouses can put a whole new dimension on your marriage. Since you both run the business, you are more invested than an employee you could hire. Apart from that, you can completely trust your partner and openly discuss sensitive topics which makes this an ideal partnership. Lastly, growing together professionally is an amazing opportunity you can’t replace with something else.

You improve the financial stability of your family

Owning a business with your spouse provides you the opportunity to share something you are passionate about as well as create something you can leave behind. The entire profit will go to the family so if your business goal is for the financial future of your family, this will be the right way to do it.

Open communication

Open and honest communication is key to every successful partnership, whether a romantic relationship or a business partnership. Being business partners with your spouse will make it easier to adjust since you know each other better, thus, communication will be more honest, which will result in better decision-making for the success of the business. Also, your communication and listening skills will really improve both in working together and on a personal level. 

Always there to support each other

The most valuable benefit of running a business with your spouse is having someone to celebrate successes with and support each other’s failures. You will be always there to support each other, brainstorm new ideas, and work on your projects all day long without getting bored or frustrated.

The challenges of owning a business with your spouse

Running a business with your spouse certainly has its challenges as well. Therefore, to weigh the pros and cons, we are listing the negatives as well. Keep reading to find out why working with your spouse is a bad idea?

No balance between work and personal life

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, not being able to leave work at work is challenging.

When you start a business, you are prepared to sacrifice things to achieve greatness, but it’s good to know that at least for a few hours a day, you can stay away from work and clear your mind.

But, if you work and live together, it is likely that the stress caused by the business will affect your home life and you’ll find yourself during family time talking about business. It can be hard to distinguish boundaries between family issues and business matters. It may create tension as well and put your business under serious pressure.

Not knowing when to give each other space

Another reason why working with your spouse is a bad idea is not knowing when to give each other space. If you have strengths and weaknesses in different areas, dividing up the work can be challenging as well.

Couples testimonials: 4 tips for successfully running a business with your spouse

Going into business with your spouse has been the reason for ruined marriages and companies many times before. It seems like it’s hard to find the right balance and to separate work from private issues. However, for some of them, it has proven to be quite a success. 

Business certainly won’t get in the way of these romantic partners to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Remember you are both focused on delivering this business together

My wife and I sold our house to set up our business Untamed. For over three years now we have been developing a styling tool designed to let you say goodbye to frizzy hair. 

How is private life affected? We are a startup, everything revolves around our business. Private life needs to be put aside if it does not benefit our business. As a small business person, you are involved in everything from warehousing to sales and marketing. There is no real-time to switch off. This will come later when our dreams and goals are achieved.

Do we always agree on what to do? Yes, I do. As Clare tells me! In all seriousness, there have been little or no arguments so far, we are both focused on delivering this business together. At the end of the day, we make a good team as Clare focuses on products and I concentrate more on the operational side of the business. Clare’s is heavily focused on marketing, and I am focused on manufacturing, distribution, and sales. 

Would we do it again? Of course, working on your own business is liberating, there is pride in building something from the ground up and hopefully making it a success.

Clare and Sean from Untamed

Recognize what each brings and stick to that

My husband and I run a business called Manley Talks. He started the company in 1999 and I did not really become involved until 4 years ago. I had my own career as a teacher and we have 2 children – now grown up.  

The biggest advantage of working together is that we can travel together and we have the flexibility to write our own timetable. The downside – we are very different. Manley is creative, a dreamer has very poor admin skills, and does not think logically. I am the opposite – I like admin! Tidy and logical thought processes. 

However, after the initial blow-ups, we have come to recognize what we each bring to the company. We still have crosswords, and sometimes work talk will dominate – but we are in it together – working towards shared goals, and that’s one of the best things that happened in my life.

Manley and Catherine from Manley Talks

Be supportive

My husband Kelly and I have just set up our own consultancy and it’s the first time we’ve officially worked together. We did work briefly together cleaning shoes at Melbourne Boat Show when we first got together and ever since then we’ve wanted to set up our own business! 

We love working together and find that it plays to both of our strengths as we are so different. 

I was already freelancing, when my husband decided he wanted to set up his own business. So I suggested we work together. I do PR and social media and my husband does web design, so it made sense to join forces and launch a consultancy together. 

It can be hard switching off in the evenings and it’s all too easy to grab the laptop on the sofa and get some work done. 

I’m super chatty and Kelly is more of a thinker so it’s great having such a balance between us. We both encourage each other to do our best and are really supportive, which I think you need when you are a team.

Thankfully, we have never really argued, even though we work together, which surprises a lot of people. I think a lot of people think we are crazy being married and working together but launching Hudia is really exciting and I wouldn’t want to share this new adventure with anyone else.

Kelly and Hester from Hudia

Having complementary skills works best

Jools and I run a small food business making healthy cooking sauces and we also import pasta from southern Italy. As small business owners, and it is just us two, we work very long hours. Our time away from the business is pretty non-existent.

If we aren’t physically working at the commercial kitchen we built ourselves, we are at home either working on social media, eating, or sleeping! The line between our business and our private lives (which I have taken to mean our time away from our business) is very blurred and switching off is almost impossible.

Jools has run his own business for 30 years so has an understanding of how a business works and Karen was in the education sector for 30 years. Hence, because our skills are complementary we work well together. 

Starting a business in your 50s is exhausting! We’ve had to learn skills that come naturally to the younger generation, i.e. the use of social media, but on the upside, the skills we have gained over the years have allowed us to approach the business with a more rounded experience and we have also been able to build our own commercial kitchen.

Karen and Jools from Nowt Poncy

Conclusion

There is not a person who 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 analyze your significant other as you would analyze a potential business partner you just met.

Can their qualities bring good to your business? Will they be supportive and be able to handle taking work at home? If he or she seems like a perfect business partner, the fact that you are married shouldn’t get in the way of building something amazing together.

And the other way around, if you don’t share the same goals about your business, the fact that you can trust him or her more than you trust any other potential partner will probably not be enough to succeed and it may even harm your marriage.

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