How To Run a Successful Business With a Spouse

Strategies on How To Be Successfully “Married” To Your Work

spouses look at computer together in home office
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The stress of a running any size business undoubtedly affects an entrepreneur’s home and personal life, but take that stress and double it when running a business with a spouse. According to the article, "Business Partners, Till Death Do Us Part", by the The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, there are approximately 4 million family-owned business in the U.S., with more than 1.4 million of those being run by a husband and wife team.

Just like any business owner, spousal business partners face tough odds in succeeding past the first few years. In fact, just 44% of all businesses make it past the first four years, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So how do you run a successful business with a spouse and still stay happily married? You run the business like a business – not like a family matter. Separating out any marital bias from the picture will allow both husband and wife to communicate as they should, like business partners. This alone can increase the odds of business success.

Ways To Thrive in a Business With a Spouse

To help increase the chances of a successful business with a spouse, consider these six important strategies:

  1. Make Sure You Are Both Ready:
    Communication is crucial. Whether someone in the marriage is already involved in the business and your contemplating bringing on your spouse or your deciding to start something from scratch together, taking time to really discuss the pros and cons of starting a business and breaking down the business plan is critical. Make sure you both understand the complete picture in how this will affect your personal life. Setting ground rules before you invest time and money will pay off in the long run and help you side step a bunch of stress and strain on your marriage.
  1. Play To Your Differing Strengths:
    Divvying out responsibilities and tasks within the business is the key to creating efficiencies. Within the article “Business Partners, Till Death Do Us Part”, married business owner Robert Hochdorf says, “It’s essential that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your partner and that you establish a clear delineation of roles in the business.”
  1. Set Clear Rules of Operation – and Then Trust Your Spouse:
    Once you have decided on which areas of the business each of you will manage, set-up clear rules of operation and don’t veer from it. Most importantly, you do your job and trust your spouse to do his or hers. Trying to micro-manage is not only inefficient, it tells your spouse that you are not confident in his or her abilities.
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Involve a Trusted Third Party To Help With The Business:
    Just because it is a family business, doesn’t mean the business operations have to stay strictly between husband and wife. Bringing in a trusted third party to assist with certain areas of the business may make sense and may actually help take off some of the pressure.
  3. Create Clear Lines of Separation Between “Married Time” and “Business Time”:
    Being married to your work means it isn’t as easy to go home and shake off the day or create a healthy work-life balance. Barrie Mershon, another couple business owner and interviewee within “Business Partners, Till Death Do Us Part”, answers the question regarding how it's possible to keep some semblance of separation between business and personal life. “We spend far too much time together. The whole, ‘Honey, how was your day?’ question doesn’t often come up with us. We know exactly how the other’s day has been,” she said. “We have learned over the years that we have to schedule dates – even lunches – where business topics are off limits.”

    The Benefits of a Business With a Spouse

    Owning a business with a spouse presents some challenges, but the benefits of working along side your husband or wife can be huge. Being able to sync work schedules, do something you both love, and have a business partner whom you trust are just a few of the wonderful things that can come from owning a business with your spouse.

    Image Courtesy of Coachen