Marriage and Trade: Before You Say I Do to that Business Proposal

couple reading a contract

Starting your own business is exhilarating. To be your own boss and take control of your time are dreams almost every employee has. And with the pandemic reminding the world that life is indeed short, there’s no better time to do it than the present. But whether you’re planning to start a business as a means to get by or just purely out of passion, doing it on your own can be tough.

Choosing a business partner is one of the most crucial steps in starting a business. Most of the time, the person you choose to start a business with is someone who’s already a big part of your life. It can be a sibling, a friend, a close high school classmate, or even your spouse.

But it’s not a secret that these partnerships can sometimes end up in unfavorable ways. Imagine if Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were a married couple. Or if Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg also had to have a messy divorce. You get the point.

So, to help you establish a great professional partnership from the get-go, here are the Dos and Don’ts you need to follow when you start a business with your spouse.

DOs

Establish roles.

You likely have different skills and weaknesses. Distinguishing your roles in the business based on these things is a must. When you have clearly defined responsibilities, it will be easier for you to trust each other. It is a more efficient way of growing your business and improving your personal relationship as well.

If one has a bigger arsenal of skills, then teaching the other how to do specific tasks will be a good way to work on the imbalance. Just make sure that the teaching part isn’t seen as micromanagement to avoid being counterproductive.

Communicate.

As with your marital relationship, communication is the key. Working with your spouse might cause you to see another side of them that you don’t know. Talking about minute things matters. Because the little things that annoy you can pile up and become a bigger problem. Remember that the lack of communication is the gateway problem that might eventually cost you your business, or worse, your marriage.

Focus on transparency.

The combination of proper communication and establishing roles builds trust. However, everything will be wasted if you can’t be honest from the start. Even if what you say might cause worry, anger, or pain, being honest is still better than lying. Transparency can help your business and marriage grow.

Have fun.

This will be another way to get to know each other better. This can be an exciting and rewarding chapter of your life. Unlike your conversations about each other’s separate workdays, you both get to actively participate in this one. Remember to always try to find joy in working with each other no matter how busy it gets.

DON’Ts

a woman trying to sign a contract

Go into business if you’re already unhappy with your marriage. Though it can be very rewarding, working with your spouse poses many risks to your marriage. If you’re already unhappy, then the thread you’re hanging on might be easily broken by a simple professional misunderstanding.

Fix your personal problems before taking your marital relationship to a professional level to avoid having your bottled-up issues come back to haunt you.

But if the worst-case scenario does indeed happen and you’re forced to cut ties legally, then ensure you still separate the personal from the professional. Hire a divorce lawyer for your marriage and a partnership dispute lawyer for your business to ensure that none of the issues overlap.

Mix business with pleasure. Starting a business can be very stressful. But no matter how stressful it gets, avoid bringing the stress home. Build boundaries between being husband and wife and business partners. And it goes the other way, too. You must do your best to avoid bringing personal fights into the workplace. Business is business, after all. And once you step into the office, you have to be professional no matter who you’re with.

Mix business funds with personal finances. This goes to all things related to business. Avoid using business funds for personal expenses and vice versa. Keep a boundary between the finances because it can easily become a habit that might cost you your business.

Let your professional relationship take over your romantic relationship. This is one of the most common dangers married business couples face. Things can get hectic, and in the chaos of it all, you might forget who you were to each other before any of this happened. Go back to being each other’s spouses at the end of the day.

ALL IN ALL

Being married to your business partner can be both fun and challenging. To make sure that you survive and thrive, the key is constant adjustments. You are not alone for better or worse.

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