The appeal of starting a business with your spouse is clear. You’re already partners in life, why not be partners in business?
But before you and your significant other make the leap, know that there are downsides to this joint venture. In this blog post we’ll look at both the pros and cons of going into business with your spouse.
Pro: You know you can trust your spouse
One of the most difficult parts about finding a business partner, is finding someone you can trust. And even when you find this person, it can take time to fully establish trust. This isn’t the case if you go into business with your spouse. You trusted each other enough to spend your lives together, you can easily trust them to be a good business partner.
Con: Personal finances are at greater risk
When you start a business with someone outside your family, your start-up capital increases. You also don’t have the weight of business finances on your shoulders alone. If something happens to your business, both you and your partner share the debt. Working with your spouse can threaten your personal finances because if the business tanks, you could lose your retirement and savings accounts.
Pro: There’s established loyalty
Another great advantage of working with your spouse is that there’s already established loyalty. And not just loyalty to the company, but loyalty to you. You have greater assurance that your spouse won’t do anything to jeopardize the business because doing so would hurt you both. Like trust, loyalty takes a while to build, which makes working with someone you don’t know, potentially perilous.
Con: A 50-50 split of responsibilities rarely works
A 50-50 split of responsibilities is the goal for every business partnership. Sadly, it rarely works out this way when your business partner is also your spouse. Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, author of For Better or For Work: A Survival Guide for Entrepreneurs and their Families, explains why: “Sooner or later, someone will wind up being the boss. That can make things difficult for the marriage.”
Pro: You know their capabilities
You know your spouse inside and out, which means you know their strengths, weaknesses and unique skillset. This makes it easier to establish responsibilities within the company and easier to have complete faith in their work.
Con: Make work/life balance difficult
The advantage of working with a business partner outside your family is that at the end of the day, you part ways. Work stays at work and you can enjoy the company of your family. This is harder to do when your business partner is your spouse. The line between work and life can be blurred and cause a strain to your marriage.
At the end of the day going into business with anyone is risky. The solution isn’t to avoid it, but to assess the risks and determine if you’re willing to take them. There are many examples of successful businesses run by married couples. So, if you think your significant other is the best person for the job, be mindful of the cons and make it work!
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