Going Into Business With Your Spouse? Ask These Questions First
Why? Interpersonal troubles can get in the way of building a business, VC Jonathan Tower explained in Fortune.
Whether this bias is entirely fair or not, the hesitance of investors to entangle themselves in other people's marriages reflects a sobering reality for couples thinking of going in to business together--maintaining your marriage and your business at the same time is often difficult. So how do you increase your odds of success?
That's a question that the Young Entrepreneur Council recently put to a number of founders, asking them what questions couples need to discuss before they pull the trigger on starting a business together. The experienced entrepreneurs came up with an extensive and thought-provoking list of ten questions, including:
Is our marriage more important than business? "If yes, then you need to make sure you both completely understand your roles and responsibilities in the office and in the home. Men may have a tendency to 'be the boss' in the office but that kind of attitude in the kitchen may result in a skillet to the forehead. To avoid misery, keep love at the top of your priority list, keep 'work talk' in the office, and keep 'pillow talk' in the bedroom," says Steven Staley, founder of Playbook Community.
Do we share the same business values? "Chances are that if you're married, you have similar values when it comes to life choices. Do your values also line up when it comes to business?" asks Nathalie Lussier, creator or The Website Checkup Tool.
Can we afford to work outside the home? "My husband and I have run our business together for two years. We had a home office in our first year, and the second year we moved into an office outside of our home. I highly recommend the latter to create a better separation between work and life. If you're bootstrapping, you may not have the luxury of an outside office right away, but consider where it falls in the roadmap," says Allie Siarto, Director of Analytics at Loudpixel. [If you are both working out of the home in the beginning, there is advice out there to help you keep your sanity.]
Can we commit to occasional separation? "Business partners who are romantically involved with one another need to have a life outside of each other. Being in a relationship with someone doesn't mean you have to spend every waking hour with each other, especially in stressful situations. Make sure you set guidelines and have some time away from one another to let your relationship recharge," says Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30CEO.com.
Intrigued? Check out the complete list of questions for more conversation starters. Or if you're looking for more advice on how to make both your business and romantic partnership thrive, have a look at CEO Laura Smoliar's five rules for working with your spouse or Inc.com's slideshow of tips to help you work with your partner without contemplating killing each other.
What topics do you think couples thinking of starting a business together must discuss?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.