If you’re in a committed relationship you may have found yourself considering the idea of starting a business together. And why not? You love each other, you work well together, and if you have to work, why not work alongside your favorite person? Especially if you share a common interest! But, just like you would if you were starting a family or buying a house together, it’s a good idea to consider how starting a business could create challenges in your relationship; especially if you’re really enjoying the way things are now. Here are three things to think about, and discuss, before diving into this great journey together:
1. Home and Work Intertwine
It’s no secret that starting a business from scratch can take an incredible amount of effort. And depending on what industry you’re diving into, the workload can start even before you officially open!
It’s important to consider that work may bleed into your home and relationship. You could find yourselves talking about work or working more often than you’d like. Date nights could turn into business meetings and late-night talks might revolve around your business plans for the next quarter. It can all be exciting at the beginning, but as time goes on, you could find yourselves burning out or losing aspects of the relationship that you used to love.
To combat the potential drain on your relationship, it’s a good idea to determine now how both of you want to communicate about the business. Consider setting boundaries that you’re both comfortable with and that allow you to continue to have a romantic relationship while still being great business partners. You could decide to set aside certain days that are strictly off limits to work, or maybe you’ll determine that work talk is not allowed after a specified time.
Whatever you both determine, remember to respect each other and consider your partner’s perspective the same way you would with a colleague in any professional setting.
2. The Bad Days
Remember that there can be a lot of difficult days in business ownership. If both of your incomes rely on the success of this endeavor, it can become incredibly stressful if it feels like things are a little slow at times.
The good thing is you will have each other, and each of you can provide support when the other starts to feel overwhelmed. Additionally, both of you should keep in mind that you are not alone in this journey; there are countless businesses that are owned and operated by couples. Look to them for guidance and ask for advice when possible. Check out our Keep Going Podcast for inspiration from other business owners who share a similar story, like Suzy and her husband who started Grounds for Coffee in Ogden, Utah together.
The most important thing is to remember that you and your sweetheart are on the same team. When business problems arise, it’s not you and your partner against each other, it’s you and your partner against the problem. Always prioritize having a healthy relationship with each other! Having a good relationship (even if the romance fizzles) will help keep your business afloat for years to come.
3. Set a Clear Outline of How the Business Will Operate
Setting a clear outline or plan of how the business will operate will help if, and when, you disagree about how things ought to run. Business partnerships should share equal responsibility when it comes to management (unless you decide otherwise), but these responsibilities can easily tumble out of alignment.
There may come a point when one of you feels that they are bearing a heavier load than the other, and these business disagreements can easily become a slippery slope into relationship quarrels. An outline will help define all the specifics to avoid potential issues, from who owns what percentage of the business, what responsibilities pertain to each of you, the compensation structure, or what will happen in case of a dissolution.
It can seem tedious and even difficult to outline every aspect of the business with your significant other, but it will save you a lot of time and headache (or even heartache) in the future. When you do have a disagreement, you can refer to the outline to remember the business purpose and how you both decided things would run, then you can correct and pivot accordingly.
Starting a business can be both an exciting and an overwhelming experience for anyone, but you’ll find that being on this journey with your significant other can also be incredibly rewarding to your relationship. The most important thing for both of you to remember is that 1) open and honest communication can make all the difference, 2) neither of you is alone in this, and 3) that mutual respect is the key factor in keeping any business or relationship triumphant.
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