Lucy and Desi. Melinda and Bill Gates. Jay Z and Beyonce. Those famous business-partner couples make it look easy. What you don’t see, though, is the hard work they’ve put in to make their business and marriage relationships work. Considering making your spouse your business partner? Franchise industry insider and business coach, Lori Kiser, recommends sorting out these four questions when making your spouse your business partner.
1. Why are you going into business together?
Marriage therapists advise couples to think back to what drew them together in the first place. This is a great exercise because it helps you remember the passion and excitement of earlier times together. Reconnecting with the “honeymoon phase” can help you build positive feelings and excitement for your new business relationship.
To get off on the right foot, take some time to reflect on exactly why your spouse may make the best business partner. Will it be a good way for you two to have more time together? Or, does the thought of working together sound fun, since you already work well as a team? Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Truly reflect and know what you like to do or not do. Consider the unique skills that each of you bring to the table. Ask yourself, is this a dream you two have had together? Are you now ready to share the responsibility of business ownership? Whatever the reason, hold onto that passion throughout the entire process.
2. Who will be the final decision-maker?
Splitting money and responsibilities in your new business venture may be easier said than done. Figure out what areas you and your spouse may excel in. Then decide who will get to make those important day-to-day decisions. For example, you could be the final decision maker on sales and marketing decisions, but your spouse may have the final say for hiring new employees. You’ll naturally have dozens of decisions to make on day one, so sorting out how decisions will be made and by whom is key. Before making your spouse your business partner, talk this one through using best- and worst-case scenarios – make sure both of you agree who makes the last call and stick with that plan.
3. Can you keep your personal disagreements from interfering with business?
Everyone - including your employees and customers - will know that you two are married. But no one (and I mean NO ONE) wants to get in the middle of a heated discussion between you two. Nor do they want to appear to take sides. It's your job as owners to avoid confrontations that would put someone in that uncomfortable position. If you have a hard time separating personal issues from business needs, then reconsider making your spouse your business partner. Remember, your job is to hash out your personal differences in private and always present a unified front for your business.
4. Do you have the same end goal in mind?
Take a lesson from Stephen Covey and start with the end in mind. It is important to first understand and agree to the exit strategy. This might seem counterintuitive, but knowing the end game makes strategic planning more purposeful. Do you both want the same outcome? How will you share the profits? Will you get other family members involved? What if your kids want to work for you? Write these kinds of questions down and keep answering them on a regular basis. Understanding what you want out of the venture and how this aligns with your partner’s vision of things is important. Set aside time, at least every 6 months to check in with each other and recalibrate goals as needed to fit what you both have in mind.
Being in business with the person you love can be the wisest decision you make as you enter the franchise industry. After all, the characteristics, talent and skills that make you great romantic partners can very well be the same reasons why you could work well together as business partners. The key is to dive deep into your ability to communicate and make sound decisions with your spouse’s input to determine if this could work. If you’re considering a new business venture, let’s talk. Free consultations.