Would going into business with your spouse be a match made in heaven or a nightmare in the making? I have worked with my husband for over five years and being partners in business and life has brought us closer together and made our business more successful. Unfortunately, not everyone has a happy ending and having their spouse involved in business can create problems.
Before you ask your spouse to partner with you, be sure to answer these five questions.
1. Is your spouse qualified for the position?
Be clear on what role your spouse will play in the company and if they are experienced for the job. Don’t create a special role for them that isn’t necessary just to have them involved in the business. Sometimes the spouse is overqualified for a role, which will ultimately make them feel resentful. If they are under-qualified and overpaid, it could create problems with other members of your team who may be paid less and have to pick up the slack for an incompetent person.
Clearly define the position.You should draft employment agreements with job responsibilities so each partner knows their defined role.
2. Do you have good communication with your spouse right now?
If your marriage is not built upon trust and healthy communication, having them in your business will only make things worse. Marital issues played out in the work environment destroys morale and becomes a distraction to other employees. Team members may be forced to pick sides and everyone in the company could be pulled into the drama.
Keep it professional. Make an agreement not to talk about your personal life during business hours to keep it separate from the day-to-day of the business. Any personal issues such as childcare, in-law drama or house duties should be handled before or after work hours.
3. Are you inviting your spouse into your business to save the marriage?
Being an entrepreneur pulls you away from your family and friends, especially in the start-up stages. Time away from someone you love can be hard on both parties. If you are feeling like you and your spouse are drifting apart because of work, the last thing you want to do is have them work with you to repair the damage. You may end up making the relationship worse and the business will suffer as well from the disruption this can cause.
Focus on your marriage first. Get support with your marriage before you enter into partnership. Seek a counselor or coach to help you work out your personal issues first. Then, if you can get on the right track with your relationship you can explore involving the business.
4. Do you enjoy being with each other all the time?
Some business partners rarely see each other so this may not apply to your business. In our business, we spend 24-7 together, except when we are working with clients independently. Fortunately for us, we enjoy each other and get along really well no matter how much time we spend together.
Run a pilot test. Before you make the leap into partnership, have your spouse do a small project. Some couples romanticize about working together until they actually do. By exploring a pilot run you can test it out, see how each of you feel, and then you can decide if you want to make it a longer commitment.
5. Do you have the same mindset of success?
Even if you don’t partner with your spouse, having a similar success mindset will be important for any marriage. If one person is working hard to succeed and the other person does not feel motivated about the vision, it will affect your revenue. If one person believes in investing in certain parts of the business, while the other is worried about every little expense, there will be conflicts.
Practice utilizing a success mindset together. One of the best investments we made in the beginning was to be on the same page with our success mindset. We read the same books, listened to the same lectures, and learned from the same mentors to help us with our success mindset. We also had very honest discussions to iron out the differences in opinion on how we define success. When we made business decisions, we were both on board and focused with the same mindset to reach our goals.
Whether you want to bring on a spouse or any family member, think of your business as a living organism that is affected by any foreign intruder. Sometimes the intruder brings wonderful gifts, like in our case, and other times you may be inviting in a Trojan Horse that can take it all down.