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How to Start a Business With Your Spouse & Keep a Happy Marriage

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:21pm | by Helen Hoart

Almost 90 percent of U.S. businesses are family owned, reports the Small Business Administration. If you and your partner are considering starting a business together, understand the risks—if poorly managed, you risk an unsuccessful business and a damaged relationship. You can have both a fun and profitable business and maintain a great personal relationship when you know how to balance the needs of both. These tips will help you find that balance and start your business partnership with a solid foundation.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Identify and list what each of you is good at and what your weaknesses are. Match up the operational tasks of your businesses with these traits. For example, Huffington Post features a story about a retired couple who opened a business together. One had years of IT experience and the other knew retail. They opened an ecommerce site that sells gift items, a perfect match for their skills.

In the initial stages, maximize each other’s strengths. You both may want to try other roles, but get some momentum in your business first. Then you can experiment. You may both also have the chance to expand your current skills into other directions.

When There is No Match

If you both lack skills in a particular area, find the solution in outsourcing or a software product. For example, if neither of you is good at accounting, hire a virtual assistant to do that work for you. Or look into small business accounting software designed for people of all skill levels. These will walk you through setting up your accounts and track your invoices, bookkeeping and billing.

Keep a Balance Between Business and Personal

Separate business and family so there is a clear distinction, even in the physical surroundings. You both will be spending a lot of time together. Agreeing on the roles and behaviors will help to keep the business and personal life from affecting the other.

Create a space in your home where only business is done. If you have personal matters to discuss, take them to another part of the home. Restrict business discussions to that part of the house. This sounds challenging, but it can help prevent business from encroaching on your personal lives together. When you are both done with work for the day, get away from it and enjoy your other life together.

Use Your Differences and Leave the Egos at the Door

Become aware of how each of you works and recognize that there will be differences. Instead of being defensive about the differences, learn to laugh about them and even use them to your benefit. One of you may be an early riser and the other may prefer to sleep in and work late—identify the morning tasks and the ones better left for late in the day, and divide them up accordingly. You both don’t need to be in your office from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day for your business to be successful.

The Houston Small Business Chronicle suggests capitalizing on your differences. Start a blog on your website that covers your opposing views on business. You each can write about how you believe that your approach works best, while respecting your partner’s viewpoint. People enjoy reading about the challenges facing small business owners, and an entertaining blog will keep people coming back to see what you’ll disagree on next.

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