According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 90 percent of American businesses are family-owned or controlled and Harvard Business School estimates that at least half of all companies in the US are family businesses. When trying to dig in to how many of these family owned or controlled businesses are husband and wife teams, the most recent research appears to be a more than decade-old study by National Federation of Independent Businesses which pegged the number at just over 1.2 million.
And Forbes reports that, "only a small sub-set of more than 1.2 million husband and wife teams running companies, have achieved great wealth, and fewer still have managed to do so and still stay married. In the U.S. Forbes found 8 billion-dollar couples."
Staying Married & Growing A Business
The two unions of a marriage and a business have very different objectives and neither partnership can be ignored if you want to be successful in both. I fully admit that there are cross-overs. Earlier this year, I shared the 3 Rules of Marriage (applied to employees) that were handed down to me by my blissfully happy in-laws who celebrated their 60th anniversary.
But to answer the question, "Should your spouse be your business partner", I reached out to my network. I connected with Christian Brown, the husband and CEO to wife and President Christine Brown of Jobbuh, an employee-content-driven job search company with a mission similar to the hugely successful GlassDoor.
I asked Christian Brown how he decided to go into business with his wife. "The decision to work with my wife was not an easy one", Mr. Brown responded. "Our marriage was one of the best things about my life, and I didn't want to complicate that. I'm happy to report that it's worked out better than expected, and taught us a lot about ourselves as well as business."
In an effort to share these insights, I asked Mr. and Mrs. Brown to identify what they have learned and what they would council other married couples thinking about going into business with each other. Here's what they recommend.
5 things to Consider before Going into Business with Your Spouse
This last point is particularly important. If you're not willing to have the uncomfortable discussions up front before you start your business, how can you expect to have candid discussions when your business needs its two business partners to work through the inevitable challenges? By setting the ground rules up front, you will substantially reduce the tension when times are tough--and this may be the very thing that saves your marriage.