Starting a Business as a Couple

How to Take Your Partnership to Another Level Without Ruining Your Love Life

Let's Make Money, Honey book
(c) GuideWords Publishing

Ever considered starting a business after you've retired from your day job? Maybe something you and your spouse can run together. A little service business that moves at your own pace, and may eventually help to increase your retirement security? Organizations from the Small Business Administration to the AARP are encouraging baby boomers to start second career businesses, and the nonprofit Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation reports that the 55- to 64-year-old age group has seen the largest rise in entrepreneurial activity in the past decade.

And an increased number of boomer couples are finding success as business partners. 

It's not always easy, but it is worthwhile, say Barry Silverstein and Sharon Wood, authors of a new book, Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couples Guide to Starting a Service Business, due out on October 1, 2015. The two are married and retired from highly successful careers in marketing. After their daughter went away to college, they decided to move to a new state and start on a new path as owners of a mobile dog grooming business. The book is designed for couples like them, considering what it would take to go into business together. It provides the story of how they did it, and details to help other would-be business partners understand exactly what is involved in getting a service business off the ground. 

Evaluating Personal Strengths and Passions

To be sure, this couple had a few things going for them from the beginning.

They had met at work and worked for the same company more than once, so they knew they are compatible professionally. Their careers provided them with marketing and sales skills that many small business owners take years to learn. Plus, Wood had already embarked on a second career as a groomer working for someone else, and she had real talent and passion for it.

When they realized that their new hometown of Asheville, NC, had a great dog culture, everything seemed to click.

But, they are quick to point out, not without a lot of serious research. Silverstein and Wood may make it sound easy, but they map out exactly what they had to do to build their business. Finding a location, looking for existing shops to buy, evaluating competition, analyzing growth potential and more all before deciding that they should take the operation on wheels. 

How to Get Started and Grow a Service Business as a Couple

The authors go on to provide a detailed overview of what any couple should consider before and when starting a service business of their own. From writing a business plan, considering funding options or franchising, business structure and operations, to managing growth, narrowing your client base and creating an exit strategy. It's all told through their highly interesting story of exactly what it took to start-up and grow, then sell their own business. 

One of the most interesting parts of the book involves the selling of their grooming business. They knew they wanted an exit strategy that would allow them to fully retire eventually, and were fortunate enough to have a perfect buyer come to them.

The business was sold to the local Humane Society, with Silverstein and Wood acting as paid consultants in the initial transition.

It turned out to be a win-win. They were able to turn over a successful business for a nice profit, and they knew it was going to help an organization they cared about. It's a great story, and the authors take the reader through each aspect of the decision making process, detailing the types of things that any owner should consider at a similar stage. 

But Should You Mix Business and Love? 

This mix of information and specific personal detail involved in getting a business off the ground as a couple makes Let's Make Money, Honey a compelling and useful read. And the authors are frank about the fact that not everyone will have it so easy, not all couples will be able to work together.

At the end of the book, the authors provide a business compatibility test, skills inventory checklist and service business start-up checklist to help readers decide if they are as ready to follow a similar path.