Working with your Spouse… Who’s the CEO?

Married couples in business together have strong opinions when asked about it. It’s either the greatest thing that has happened to them or the most awful. Articles often turn up reporting that work pressure is leading couples to delay starting a family or that they are having less sex, so why put both of you in the same stressful position? Very few couples (if any at all) are indifferent about running a business with their spouse.

I’ll discuss some pros and cons of working with your spouse and in the follow-up article we will discuss boundaries and rules to make your working relationship even better! Let’s begin with a couple of the “cons”:

Finances — In a household where a couple works separate jobs, there are two paychecks theoretically coming in consistently. If one partner loses their job, there’s money continuing to come in from the other partner. When you both co-own and work in a business together if the business fails, this could do major damage to your savings (if you have them), cause extreme stress, and hurt your net worth and retirement plans.

Lack of Equality — Most couples assume that there will be a 50/50 split of authority and decision making, but it rarely works out this way. The best advice I have is to create crystal clear roles before starting and not to overstep those defined positions, as this will save you many arguments down the road.

Difficulty Separating Home & Work — Whether you are on vacation, on a date night, or are just sitting at the dinner table, it is easy for the conversation to land on business. Not only will you bring your business issues home, but your business can be affected by personal issues instigated at home. This can be extremely taxing on a relationship.

Now, I’m personally from the camp of “co-entrepreneurs” who love working with their spouse, so let’s name a few “pros” of owning a business with your spouse.

Trust — From day one, you’ll have full confidence that your partner has you and the business’ best interest in mind and this is vital to remember if/when times get rough. I trust no one more than my spouse!

Same Goals — By having your spouse as your partner in life you know that you both want nothing more than the business to be successful! It benefits you both personally, professionally, and financially if the business succeeds.

You Can Make a lot of Money — Having a family owned business can make you a lot of money if it’s the right business for you. This isn’t anything to feel bad about. Remember, if you don’t make money you can’t help anyone do anything!

Running a business is an exciting venture and in Part 2 we will discuss ways to ensure you and your spouse continue to love each other and the business that you started together!