Starting a business can be a risky endeavor (quitting your job, spending your savings, good potential for failure, and the list goes on). Starting a business with your spouse can be even riskier when you consider your shared finances, your retirement funds, your relationship, your mental health and happiness. Before you risk everything, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you willing, able and ready to work together? For any successful business, you must have a proper business plan. Part of this plan should outline ownership, roles, responsibilities, etc. Be sure that you and your spouse have a very clear understanding of each of these areas of the business. The more that you can divide your roles and responsibilities in different areas of the business, the better you will be able to share power and minimize arguments.
- Can you mesh your personal and business lives seamlessly? Be sure to draw boundaries so that you maintain some semblance of your romantic life. Furthermore, make sure that you both have enough room to work so that when one is working with clients, or needs personal space or room to think strategically, there is not a conflict. Lastly, make sure that you have developed an effective way of airing differences and resolving disputes. You certainly will not see eye-to-eye on all aspects of the business. The better system you have for managing these discrepancies, the more successful you will be at doing so and the happier you will be with one another.
- Are you clear with one another on what financial risks each is willing to take? There is a good chance that you will not see eye-to-eye in terms of when it is time to call it quits. By discussing your financial runway with one another and having a mutual understanding of when it is time to quit, you will save the headache and potential fallout down the road.
- Lastly, ask yourself, what comes first, the relationship or the business? If and when times get tough, one of you may face the decision of having to lose the business to save the relationship. Determine when enough is enough.
Even if you think you know your answers as well as your spouse’s answers to all of these questions, it is wise to sit down together and have an open discussion. Whether you determine that you are on the same page and ready to push forward, or you find that you have too many differences and that it would be too risky to go into business together, this is a worthwhile practice that will help mitigate any potential risks associated with starting a business with your spouse.