What can be better than having your most trusted ally working with you while you are trying to navigate the challenging route to small business ownership? You can rely on him / her to face whatever challenge comes along the way. Your spouse also understands your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else and can complement you for any missing links. All the while he / she is by your side all day and night.
As romantic as it sounds, having the company of your spouse 24×7 can be a double-edged sword. History supports both sides of the argument. For every successful business built by a husband and wife team, there are probably five others that have not worked out well. Not only have the partners lost their business, but they have lost their marriage too. Running a business with your life partner sounds easier than it is.
That is why it is important to have a clear understanding of what is involved when running a business with your spouse (or any close relative, for that matter). Before you jump into it you have to carefully examine the challenges you will face and devise a plan to address them. Just like you had spent time before getting into the nuptial agreement, you need to weigh the pros and cons of this business arrangement. Here is my view of the pros and cons of having your spouse as business partner.
- Trusted Partner — As we already mentioned your spouse is the most trusted partner you can have when running a business. You can discuss anything and everything with him without having to worry about divulging business secrets or getting bad advice.
- Common Goal — Both partners in the business will have the common goal of making the business successful. After all, it is going to benefit them equally in personal lives too. This will ensure that both the partners will stand together while going through challenging times.
- Good Understanding — As life partners, both husband and wife have developed a pretty good understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This will come in handy when you have to take care of the business since you can back each other up, especially in the areas where one of you is not strong enough.
- Easier Scheduling — Since both the partners are together, it becomes somewhat easier to manage personal lives. Think about having to attend personal commitment during business hours. You don’t need to ask for permission from the boss.
- High Risk — By running the business together you are putting all financial eggs in one basket. If the business does not work out as expected, you stand to lose it all. You cannot fall back on the safety of having one partner continuing with the income.
- No Separation between Home and Work — Can you imagine the conversation you will have at a dinner table? Most likely, it will revolve around business if you do not attempt to block it deliberately. Not only will you bring your business issues home, but your business can be affected by personal issues raised at home. There is no place to go away from your spouse to cool down!
- Employee Awkwardness — Many time employees may feel awkward when having both spouses around. Whose side do they take when having to make a decision? Will they feel comfortable around you when you are discussing your personal lives?
- Difficult Decisions — Having both partners in the business can prevent you from making difficult decisions. You simply cannot “fire” your spouse if business conditions warrant taking such action. If you cannot move fast enough in making decision because of the nature of relationship it may hurt your business.
As can be seen, having your spouse as a business partner can work both ways. The best advice we can give is make sure you understand both sides and, more importantly, lay down ground rules of how you will operate the business.
About the Author: Harry Vaishnav is a small business expert. He maintains a blog at SmallBizViewPoints where he provides insights, information and guidance to small business and franchise owners and prospective buyers. He also provides consulting services to small businesses at Angel Business Advisors.