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When your business partner is your spouse

What happens when “Honey, please pass the butter,” is quickly followed by “and next month’s sales forecast”?

According to The Wall Street Journal, about a third of all family businesses are run by husband-wife teams.* Juggling the demands of a business as well as a marriage can be a challenge, so be sure to consider the following if you’re in business with your spouse.

6 tips
Communicate openly. As in every relationship, you won’t always agree on everything. But it’s important to agree on the basics: your business plan, how much or little debt you are willing to take on, and who is responsible for what.

Discuss short- and long-term plans. What goals do you have for the business in one year? Five years? Long term? What happens if you get an acquisition offer? You may have problems in the future if one spouse sees the business as a short-term springboard to financial gain while the other sees it as his or her life’s work.

Divide and conquer. Make sure you have clearly delineated responsibilities. Perhaps one of you is a natural at sales while the other is more comfortable working behind the scenes. If you both have the same skills, you may need to hire someone else to complement yours.

Get expert help. A team of professionals –– such as a business banker, attorney and marketing consultant –– can provide objective advice and help you see where there may be gaps in your business plan. You’ll also want to work with a tax advisor who can help you decide how to structure your business, which will have an impact on how you recognize income and pay taxes.

Maintain home/work boundaries. It may be hard to leave work behind when you get home, especially in the early years. For some couples, talking business while you’re doing laundry may not be an issue. But try to make sure you are carving out sufficient time for each other and for family life.

Expect bumps. Just as marriage has its ups and downs, so do business partnerships. Try not to take it personally if your spouse thinks your idea for expansion is a bad one, or if you disagree on the color of your logo. Issues like the strategic direction of the company should be more important.

Talk to us
Owning your own business often means the need for some financing. We’ll work with you and your spouse to review your plan and explore your business loan options. Call (800) 544-0545 to speak with a business banking expert or contact us now! 

* Source: The Wall Street Journal, Feb, 13, 2011.