It can seem like a dream come true: Starting a business with the most important person in your life. However, it might not be the best option in all cases. While working with your spouse can be interesting, and even beneficial, some couples may not respond well, long-term, to being in business together. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide to start a money making business with your spouse:
- Are your skills and duties complementary? You should consider whether or not you complement each other. If you are both strong in the same areas, it can lead to a deficiency in some areas. Additionally, if you are both strong in the same skills, it can lead to run-ins between you, since you will be doing similar jobs — and you might have different ways of doing things.
- How do you handle disagreements right now? It is also important to consider how you handle disagreements now. Every married couple has disagreements, and how you take care of them mean success or failure for your joint business venture. If you disagree in public — especially in front of employees or clients — it can cause confusion and other problems. If you are good at resolving your differences constructively, though, you might be able to run a business together.
- Can you handle it if one of you is the business leader? Every business needs a leader. If you can’t agree on who will be “in charge,” or if trying to choose a leader is too difficult, it might be not be the best option for you to work together.
You will also need to consider what happens if one of you no longer wants to be involved with the business. Think carefully about the impact working together would have on the business, as well as on your relationship. Your joint business venture could get really complex if something happens with your relationship and you divorce. If you have enough complementary skills, and if you are comfortable with the division of labor, it can work out quite well to start a business together. In some cases, though, it might be better to have different businesses.
Starting a Business Together — On Paper
Of course, there are ways to start a business together on paper, without being too involved in sharing the day to day duties associated with managing a business. My business is a LLC. I am the general partner, and my husband is the limited partner. We are in business together, so that I have the advantages of a pass through business organization, but he doesn’t make decisions. However, he was asked to consult, and we were able to use the EIN. Since it’s a freelancing business, my husband can do his own consulting or freelancing, and we don’t have to really work together.
In other cases, your spouse can perhaps sit on a board of advisors for your business. Another option is to have your spouse be a shareholder (although you would probably need to have some sort of separate finances). There are ways to include your spouse in your business without being full partners. Consider what situation might work best for you, and honestly evaluate your ability to be business partners before you make the decision.