Should you start a Business with your Lover or Spouse ?

Starting a business and building a romantic relationship are alike in many ways – both need initial investment of time and effort as well as need long-term maintenance to keep it successful. But what if you can combine the two – in other words turn a fulfilling relationship into a successful business partnership as well? However appealing as the scenario sounds, it is not without its share of pitfalls. So before you take  a decision, consider the pros and cons of going into business with your lover or spouse.

First the advantages:

  • The top argument for starting a business with a lover/spouse is that any profit you make will remain in the relationship/family. If you select a third person as a business partner, you will have to give him/her a share of the earnings from the business which means that money will be going out. For this reason alone, family-run businesses often turn out very successful even though they cannot afford expensive marketing or large capital investment.
  • Yet another major advantage for going into business with your partner is that you will be spending more time with him/her than if you were working separately. Most couples involved in the hectic modern world rarely get to see each other because by the time they finish work, commute home and get the chores done,  they have little time and energy left over for each other. Instead running a business together with your spouse can be a great way to spend more time with them. And even though working together is a different type of being together, for people who really enjoy their partner's company it suffices just to be around each other.

  • Running a business with your lover or  spouse will help you to know him/her better and thus learn to appreciate them more. Working with your beloved will allow you to see a whole other side of their personality. You will notice and appreciate many qualities which you may not have even known that your partner possessed and you will feel a greater respect for them. Not everyone gets to see their spouse using their professional or business talents and it can open your eyes to their merit outside of their service to the family.
  • One of the most important advantages of running a home business is the kind of flexibility that you will be able to bring in your life, particularly those related to care of children or elderly parents. Since your business and marital partner are the one and same, you can interchange the duties – for instance you take the kids to the dentist one day while your spouse attends to a client. Or another time, you can leave for an out-of-town meeting while your spouse stays home and looks after the kids. This way you need not feel guilty of neglecting either your family or business since you known that both are being looked after by your lover or spouse.
  • Finally the strong bond of trust and love that you share with your lover or spouse is the perfect platform on which to build a business relationship. You already know that your beloved will not cheat and thus you are protected from one of the greatest dangers of going into a partnership with a third person. Your relationship skills are already in place and accompanied with the right business instincts, they can work magic for your joint enterprise.

    However the very closeness which could make for a supportive business relationship could also lead to stress and conflict.
  • Among the biggest sources of conflict in a home business is a disparity of goals. While you both may want the business to succeed, it is possible that you and your partner have different ways of going about it and even think differently on the long term goals for your business. Thus while your spouse or lover wants to build a business with the final aim or selling it to a larger company, you may have plans of expansion and growth under your own management. So before you begin your venture, it is crucial that you both should sit down and thrash out  ideas of how you want to build your company and what you eventually want it to become.
  • Even when you and your spouse or lover share a similar long term vision for your business, its day-to-day running may cause dissatisfaction if your working styles are different.  Say you like to jump headlong into work every morning but your partner cannot conceive of a workday without drinking umpteen cups of coffee and reading the newspaper for two hours in bed. Again one person’s creativity may be interpreted as slacking by another while someone’s meticulous way of working can be seen as controlling and suffocating by the other. All these issues need to be taken into account before you start a business with your partner so that there are as few hiccups down the road as possible.
  • If you had jumped into business with your life partner so as to be able to spend more time with him/her, along the way this very intimacy may become overwhelming and irritating. Being around each other almost every minute of the day and constantly dealing with work-related troubles may begin to wear your patience thin. You may be tempted to take each other for granted more than before and even give way to outbursts of exasperation and temper on more than one occasion.
  • Running a business with a spouse or lover leaves you both vulnerable to financial disaster since there is less diversity to handle setbacks. If the business does not do well or is going through a slow period you don't have the income of the other spouse to fall back on. Because you have put all of your eggs in one basket, should you lose it, your family is hit hard. It's important to develop other avenues to handle setbacks like a line of credit, for example. Family businesses should have a bountiful rainy day fund for peace of mind.
  • Finally mixing business with pleasure brings about a confusion of the private and work-related boundaries. You may thus find yourself shouting at your partner at dinnertime for the way he conducted the client meeting in the afternoon. Or conversely your partner may respond to an arch comment on his data-entry skills from you by saying that “you too messed up the breakfast this morning”. This creation of personal and work spaces bodes well neither for the business nor your relationship and may be the cause of destruction for both.