For many couples, the idea of working together sounds heavenly. But we’ve seen so many life partners try to be business partners only to find that their finances – and their relationships – can’t survive the shift.
There are, however, couples who can make a business work–we work together and love it. So if the two of you are considering starting a business together, here’s what you need to know:
- You must be equals. If one person reports to the other, or is a “subordinate” it will be a disaster. Equal means having equal responsibilities, equal benefits, equal decision-making power. That doesn’t mean you have to have the same responsibilities. It means that you are true partners in making the business work.
- Know what’s really involved. Starting a business sounds like a great way to make a fresh start and spend time together. But being a business owner is anything but romantic. It’s all about the details-salaries, hiring and firing, managing a building, budgets, insurance, marketing, and on and on. It’s almost like building another family. And unless you are both able to fully commit to making this work, it won’t.
- Capitalize on each other’s strengths. Before you jump in, make sure you understand your Money Personalities and how they will help the two of you work together. If you’re going to build a business together, you need to spend at least a year figuring out who you are, what you are good at, and what you like to do. What’s going to make this venture fulfilling to each of you? How will you solve the inevitable conflicts between you? You have to know yourselves and each other before you go into business together.
- This is a financial decision, not an emotional one. Treat this the way you would any enormous investment. Talk, talk, talk about what you’re doing and why. Take a long, hard look at your finances and use your Money Huddles to continue talking about your plans and ideas. And don’t afraid to pull the plug if it’s not working. Your relationship is more important than a business.
- Have regular business meetings. If you decide to move forward and start a business together, treat it like a business, not an extension of your relationship. In addition to your regular household Money Huddles, hold monthly or quarterly meetings to stay on top of your business-related budget and other issues.
In addition, make sure to stay connected to the numerous resources for family businesses, such as Family Business magazine and the Family Business Institute. It can be an incredible adventure to build a business with your partner. It demands a lot of respect for each other, a clear sense of the risks involved, and strong financial communication skills. If you’re got all of that, then we wish you the best!