A couple’s guide to starting a business together

Mixing business with romance can end in success or disaster. It all depends on how you do it.

Starting a business is no easy feat, but doing it with someone you love can make it a little more enjoyable. When you’re choosing a business partner, choosing the person you trust the most, enjoy being around, and generally share your life with may seem like a no-brainer.

However, this isn’t true for all couples. All relationships have their obstacles and starting a business together can throw a few more complications and conflicts into the mix. Your decision to work together may make or break your relationship.

Start with a Solid Foundation

Before starting a business with your partner, it’s important to begin with a stable and healthy relationship. Starting a business means a lot of time, money and stress. Is your relationship strong enough to handle these stressors? The nature of your relationship may reflect the longevity and stability of your business- and vice versa.

Focus on communication. You need to be able to communicate both personally and professionally. Starting a business may even improve your communication while strengthening your bond and fostering mutual respect and understanding, but it is difficult to build on nothing. It is essential that you can effectively and openly communicate before you even take your first step into starting a business.

Set Some Boundaries

Nobody likes to plan for a possible breakup, but when starting a business together, it is essential to know that you would still be able to run the business together and communicate professionally if your romantic relationship ends. The last thing you need after a breakup is to find yourself in an awkward situation because your personal life has become too intertwined with your business.

Keeping your business separate from your home life has many benefits. You don’t want to come home after a long day of work and continue to only talk and think about work. Furthermore, you want to keep a professional image- your customers, clients, stakeholders and others don’t need to be privy to the ins and outs of your relationship.

Make sure you are both doing something you love

Owning a business comes with the massive benefit of making a living from your own passions and dreams. A business started and run by a couple should not focus on what just one person wants to do. Both should be happy and enthusiastic about the business, and both should have the opportunity to refine their skills and focus on what they love doing.

There are ways to combine the dreams and goals of both members of a couple. If one partner is creative and the other loves talking to people, they might start a store selling wholesale giftware, with one serving customers while the other curates a range of products and styles their store displays. If one enjoys carpentry and the other prefers doing admin work, they have the perfect recipe for a carpentry business where one partner takes care of the admin side of things. As long as both parties enjoy what they are doing and respect the role the other takes on, almost anything is possible.

Starting a business with another person means taking them into account before making decisions. Discuss your shared passions and interests and how these may work as business ideas. Discuss the kind of lifestyle you want, how you picture your future, and the level of success you want to attain. From here, have a cohesive idea of what you want to do- ideally, something that combines your interests or passions and is both exciting and realistic.

Celebrate the Successes, No Matter How Small

The first months and years after starting a business can be a little brutal, but there will be moments of triumph. Don’t take these for granted! Acknowledge them and give yourselves a pat on the back- or a glass of wine.

Celebrate when your business officially opens, when you get your first customer, and literally anything else that feels like a win.

Benefits of Starting a Business as a Couple

There is a common saying that starting a business ends a marriage. This can be true in many cases, but this quote is generally applied to couples in which only one partner is starting a business. This is a very different situation from when a couple is going on this journey together.

Starting a business can feel like it is taking up your whole life. Your money, time, energy and just about everything else goes into trying to get it off the ground. It requires your full attention and everything, including your relationship, may get less attention as a result of this. The end result and the progress they’re making may motivate the business owner- but it can be hard on their partner, who is faced with an exhausted partner with very little time to give them. This is especially true when the business is not a shared passion, and the risks and sacrifices can take a toll on everyone. The business may even start to seem like a rival for the other partners’ attention.

It isn’t only hard on the partner. The one opening a business is doing it tough, too. Additionally, they may feel like they are part of a whole new world- one that their partner isn’t part of.

But what happens when the couple is in the trenches of business ownership together?

Now they’re part of the same world. They may have ups and downs, successes and failures, but they have someone who understands just as much as they do. They have the same passions and goals and are working towards the same thing. They’re taking risks together and their business becomes their shared pride and joy rather than a third party in a very weird love triangle.

Sharing tasks between two can make things go faster, and it saves one partner working hard on their business while the other waits anxiously at home. The shared experience of running a business may deepen bonds, strengthen communication, and foster a deep sense of respect for the role the other has taken on.

Starting a business can feel overwhelming. When you do it with someone you love and trust, it can turn into something beautiful. And the success of your business will feel amazing when you know that you did it as a team.

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