Valentine’s Day Special – is it a good idea to go into business with your spouse?
As we wonder how we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day this year – will it be dinner for two, a romantic night away or a last minute petrol station pitstop to grab some flowers? – spare a thought for all those hard working couples who run a business together (apart from florists, of course, as they’ll be raking it in at this time of year!). Do these entrepreneurs who are both life and business partners find time for romance? Or is it all work, work, work? And, on reflection, would they say it is a good idea to go into business with your spouse?
Family businesses make up a significant proportion of companies trading in the UK today. Many of those are run as husband-and-wife teams. Which, as you can imagine, has its upsides and its downs. But, if you can follow a few simple rules, you’ll find there are far more benefits than there are burdens when going into business with your spouse.
The first rule is to set some boundaries. Make sure you keep your work and personal life separate. This isn’t easy and, of course, there will be a blurring of these boundaries at times. But it is essential that you remember to be a couple outside of the office or workplace. Put down the smartphone, ignore your emails and remember why you got together in the first place. Your business, your relationship and your well-being depends on it.
The second rule is to play to your strengths. They say opposites attract and, if that applies to you and your partner, then you probably have complementary skill sets. One of you might be the gregarious salesperson, while the other is the methodical organiser. You need to outline which role each of you is going to play in the business – go as far as to write a job description for each other – and then stick to that role.
The third rule is to get help. Find someone from outside of your business and your marriage who can offer advice. That might be a business consultant, a life coach or an HR specialist. But find someone who can give you an objective view of your business, and of your working relationship. Yes, these advisors can be expensive. But if they can mediate well and keep both your relationship and your business on track, they’ll be cheaper than a divorce!
The final rule – and this is vital if ever you start a new business – is to have goals. But this time, they need to be shared goals. The great thing about going into business with your spouse, though, is that you are more likely to have the same life vision. Relations between company owners who are merely business partners, on the other hand, often break down as they have different personal goals, different financial pressures and different home lives.
In fact, one of the key advantages of going into business with your spouse is that you’ll understand the impact your home life can have on your business. And vice versa. So if one of you needs to duck out to collect the kids from school, you’re unlikely to get grief from your partner. Conversely, if running your own business means you have to work late from time-to-time, you’ll have an understanding spouse if they’re involved too.
Make no mistake, starting a new business is hard work. If you want an easy life, stick with your job. Some people are under the illusion that you can start a business, benefit from flexible hours and still earn a good income from the outset. When, in fact, the opposite is true. You’ll probably work longer hours for less money, at least in the early days.
But if you’re going into business with your spouse, and you’re prepared to share the pain of the initial start-up phase, you might have an even greater chance of success than someone starting a new business on their own. At least you’ll be spending time together too!
There are plenty of hard working employees, and business owners, who are miserable because they spend far too long away from home. They miss their partners and they miss out on seeing their children grow up. That can be tough on a relationship and can create some pressures at home. So, another key benefit of going into business with your spouse, then, is that neither one of you should feel like a work widow or widower.
Let’s not forget the financial rewards too. You and your partner will be bringing the income from your business into the same household. You’ll be using both of your tax allowances. So you should see more net returns than the equivalent employee or single director.
Is it a good idea to go into business with your spouse? Well, you’ll have heard people say: “nobody will love your business as much as you do”. And, hopefully, the same applies with your spouse. There’s mutual trust, respect and affection. So, if you both love your business, and still love each other as life and business partners, then you could be onto a winner.
Learn more about going into business with your spouse here>>