There are numerous successful businesses across the world that were started and are run by spouses. Others might be sole proprietorships, but behind the scenes, one of the spouses helps one way or the other.
Yes, it is possible to start and run a business with your partner. But the whole process can feel like walking on eggshells. Like marriages, business partnerships with spouses come with ups and downs, like any other partnership. However, this one requires some special considerations to ensure that your personal and working relationships stay healthy.
Essential Tips For Starting & Running a Startup With Your Partner
Build a Foundation
A strong foundation involves setting the ground rules for your working relationship. You both need to be on the same page regarding the business operations, business goals, and personal involvement. The best way to get around this is by drawing a well-defined business plan. Set out:
- The budget
- The source of financing
- How much each partner is contributing
- The expected repayment for initial investment capital, if any
- The decision-making process
- The roles of each partner in running the business
- The overall business structure
- Division of business profits
The more encompassing the business plan is, the better the business operations. It helps you avoid conflicts and confrontations for any simple misunderstandings. You can always refer to the business plan rather than go around the circle arguing with each other, which could spill over to your personal relationships.
Hold Meaningful Conversations
Conflicts are normal, even in businesses where the partners are not related. But that does not mean you cannot solve the issues in a meaningful conversation. It is actually the best way to solve any problems and come up with workable solutions. Do not sit on any issues you have because these emotions could fester into a full-blown argument. You should both be ready to lay all your feelings bare.
Speaking of holding meaningful conversations, learn to listen. You cannot solve a problem without listening to the other party: whether you are discussing which supplier to use, how to use the retained earnings of your startup, which potential revenue streams to explore, or anything else regarding the business.
You both must listen to each other without shouting or talking over each other. In fact, during an argument, practice listening to each other. Your partner might have the best solution to your argument, but you will never know if you do not learn. Alternatively, you might be right, or both of you could be wrong, beautiful you do not listen; you will never know.
Draw Boundaries Between Professional and Business
Drawing the boundaries will mostly involve knowing when to talk business and when to be personal. Some couples have a rule of not bringing work to bed or limiting the amount of business talk you involve during dinner time, date night, or any personal time. The truth is, there are few times when couples never take their business talk home but learn to have a limit. It will help you grow both professionally and personally.
Having Own Space
Cute as it is to run a business with your partner, someone you share every aspect of your life with, and do not forget to have space. The best way to go about it is for every one of you to have their own office set up. If you are sharing an office, consider separating it into cubicles, where each one has its own IT and another office essential set up.
If you are renting out an office space, keep the space where everyone has their own office. It will help you draw boundaries, and you can both concentrate on business with limited personal time interruptions.
Have Solid Employment Terms
That includes setting solid employment terms on what qualifications employees must meet and their skill set. It is also important to remember that not every employee in your business is family, especially when you start growing. You both could be forgoing payments or any other remunerations but once you have employees, set payment terms for them that you both agree on.
The bottom line is, treat the business you are starting or running with your spouse as a business and not a personal arrangement. Not everyone is able to start and run a business with their partner. But if you can, and you both believe in each other and your combined strength in building a successful business, ensure you follow the above tips.