How Do I Work in a Business with my Spouse? 13 Ways.
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“A business partnership is like a marriage, and as with any marriage, at times you’re going to have conflict…”
- Peter Feinstein
Can a husband and wife run a successful business together? Absolutely. Are there statistics that back your claim? There are no specific statistics about businesses co-owned by spouses in America; we can only infer from general statistics. For example, it is said that businesses with two owners are 30% likely to generate more revenue than businesses owned by one person; and 19% less likely to experience premature scaling, policyadvice.com. This is great news for couples intending to run a business together; however, we cannot estimate the percentage of businesses co-owned by married couples in the quoted stats.
Despite all you might have read about the risk of running a business with your spouse, there is no need to have an exaggerated fear about it. Life is full of risks. Whether you decide to run a business solo or co-owned, the risk of failure is ever-present. Consider the benefits of working with your spouse as much as you consider the risks.
- You have a higher chance of trusting your partner to oversee certain sensitive tasks than anybody you employ.
- You spend more time with them and have a better chance of deepening the bond you share with them.
- You share in the success and failure of the business.
- They understand you better and would stand by you longer than anyone.
- You have a good support system.
In this article, we’ve provided many helpful tips on how to run a successful business with your spouse.
How do I work with my partner in a business?
Let’s start by saying that running a business with your spouse comes with many emotions, and they are all valid. Some days you might feel like Harvey Specter and Mike Ross kicking asses; the next day, you feel like Tom and Jerry stepping on each other’s toes. And another day, you feel like angels and demons are on your shoulders telling you how to handle your spouse and the business. While you can never be fully prepared for an entrepreneurial adventure with your spouse, you can save yourself a lot of stress by getting some helpful tips before diving into it.
Constantly work on character and personality.
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The longevity of your working relationship depends on your character and personality. Working with your spouse will expose more sides of you that might be foreign to them. They would either like or hate what they see, and sometimes they would not tell you about it. But their vibe will give you some hints. Be willing to evaluate yourself truthfully and be intentional about growth. The same goes for your spouse. It is the only way to have a fulfilling work relationship with your spouse. The first step to running a business with your spouse is to keep a humble and open mind about being better.
Identify your goals and vision.
Identifying and discussing business goals and vision is critical for everybody that intends to have a productive working relationship with their spouse. Without clear business goals and vision, the foundation of your business and working relationship becomes fragile. Businesses that adopt the freestyle work pattern have a higher chance of failing because the business owners won’t give their business the respect and effort it deserves.
Couples that shy away from making clear goals and vision or letting one spouse figure it out finds it difficult to manage and market the business properly. The longevity of the business becomes uncertain.
You and your spouse must understand the purpose of your business, its core duties, and where it is heading to. Doing so will spare you and your spouse many conflicts and unseriousness.
Set workable rules and continue to renegotiate fair rules for a better working relationship.
Many couples shy away from setting healthy and workable rules for their business not to offend their partners or ruin their romance. If you ever find yourself in this situation, you’re not ready to run a serious business with your spouse.
Where there are no rules, conflicts are inevitable. A husband and wife can run a business together when their marriage or intimacy doesn’t get in the way of making objective and fair rules that should govern the activities of their business and working relationship.
The best way to set healthy rules for a business is to ensure that it does not revolve around you and your spouse’s wants or needs but on what’s good for the business.
Having clear roles in your business will reduce friction and increase productivity, a sense of ownership, autonomy in certain decision-making, and a desire for growth. Little will be achieved when you and your partner insist on doing everything in the business together.
Sometimes, people fear delegating important tasks to their spouses; they forget their partners can only grow by getting them to perform various tasks while supervising them. Lack of faith in a person’s spouse could have dire consequences in your business and working relationship like;
- The risk of being overworked
- Lack of commitment and seriousness towards the business from the spouse who feels incompetent by the action of their spouse.
Fun fact: Did you know that most serial entrepreneurs score low on skills such as Analytical problem solving, Empathy, Self-management, and Planning & organizing?
Be realistic about personal ability and expectations.
When running a business with your spouse, there is a high temptation to make unrealistic promises from a genuine desire to improve the business and make your partner happy. Sadly, it is frustrating to have a spouse who promises to complete some tasks within a given time and does not deliver as promised. Unmet promises or expectations tamper with trust. You don’t want you or your partner to learn not to rely on each other. Don’t be ashamed or too excited to admit that you cannot do something when you can’t. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do and seek help on time.
Focus on growth than flaws
There is nothing as calming as running a business with a positive spouse. Start-ups are usually stressful. The last thing anyone needs is a spouse that worsens a stressful situation. The temptation to blame one’s spouse often is high, but it should be avoided. Start-ups are a learning curve for everyone involved in the business, and mistakes will be made. No couple can run a successful business together by exonerating themselves of blame and heaping it on their spouses.
Develop conflict resolution skills
Your success, sanity, and marriage hang on a pendulum the moment you decide to co-own a business with your spouse. A bad working relationship with your spouse could drown some valuable parts of your life. Did you know that the divorce rate amongst entrepreneurs goes as high as 43-48%? The earlier you and your spouse become committed to resolving conflicts maturely, the better for both of you and the business.
Improve your communication skill
Your entire business revolves around effective communication. This one skill will work wonders for you and your spouse. No working relationship can thrive where there is poor communication.
If you’re the type of person that hoards information or gives bad attitudes to people instead of communicating your grievance, you need to work on yourself.
Effective communication starts with paying attention to what, how, when, and where you say what you say.
- “What you say” involves being mindful of your words and their possible interpretations.
- “How you say it” focuses on the tone of your voice, body and facial expressions.
- “When and where you say it” involves proper timing and accessing prevailing circumstances before saying what you say.
If you are not ready to listen attentively and respond kindly to your spouse, you cannot run a business with them.
Be willing to do more than your share of work.
In situations where your partner lacks the motivation to work, whether it be a blue day, fight day, or chill day for them; whether it be the worst possible day for you and the business; you need to prepare your mind to fill their shoes without letting it affect your working relationship.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of blaming and punishing your spouse excessively for absenting themselves from the business or failing to meet deadlines. Sadly, such actions would only widen the rift between you two. During trying days, your mindset should be, how can I make a difficult or stressful situation better for myself and everyone involved in the business? Be willing to help your spouse out when they cannot perform optimally.
Learn to accept and deal with criticism
One of the disadvantages of running a business with your spouse is receiving harsh criticism from them. They know your flaws as their spouse, and they’re still exposed to more of your shortcomings as a business owner. During tense situations, there is a high chance that your spouse will highlight your flaws, which will hurt you. Criticisms sting a lot more when it’s coming from a spouse. But the good side to the criticism is that there is a high chance that your spouse is being truthful to you.
Exercise self-control, no matter how hurt your spouse’s criticism makes you feel. Don’t take your annoyance home and unleash it on your family. It ruins the mood and sanity of your marriage, opening up a pandora’s box to other issues.
Invest in your workspace.
Conducive working space can make a world of difference in your working relationship. You and your spouse do not need to always be in each other’s faces. A good workspace will help both of you maintain a good level of respect and encourage productivity in the business.
Make time to play.
If you wish to work in a business with your spouse successfully, you must give time to play. Time for fun is as important as time for serious business. Fun time allows spouses to iron out differences and get back on the same team. The last thing you want is a partner who resents you because of some unresolved issues you’ve probably forgotten about.
Another important point to remember about playtime is that it should not revolve around your free time. Your spouse will not find that move funny.
Make financial decisions together.
Money is the root of many conflicts in co-owned businesses. Many leading partners often override the approval of their spouses when making financial decisions. Such an action breeds the feeling of disrespect, lack of trust towards a spouse, and little sense of ownership in the business. If you are not ready to get financial approval from your spouse before making decisions in the business, you cannot work in a business with your spouse.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Can couples work together in a company?
Yes. Many companies have spouses working in various capacities for them. Everything depends on the company’s policy and the type of job spouses apply for. Many informal and semi-formal businesses have more flexible policies. They usually employ people based on referrals, regardless of if the referral is related to the person working for them. There are also instances where spouses work for the same formal company but different branches/ franchises. Sadly, there are no statistics of businesses with spouses working for them.
Why do companies not hire spouses?
Companies that do not allow spouses to work for them do so based on their policy. They wish to avoid spousal conflicts or prohibited affairs/ behavior from happening in their organizations and promote more seriousness.
Working in a business with your spouse could be the best or worst decision ever. Be intentional, realistic, and open-minded when deciding to run a business with your spouse.
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