Married, With Business – 5 Pitfalls to Avoid

Most spouses will stand by each other in sickness and in health. But in business together? That’s a totally different landscape fraught with stresses of another nature. Yet many couples succeed in business because they understand and avoid the pitfalls.

Considering a business venture with your significant other? Here’s what to avoid to increase your chances of success.

Pitfall 1: Unclear Delineation of Duties

Even if you and your spouse agree on everything, it’s still a good idea to define each other’s roles, so there’s no confusion. Write these down, too, which forces you to really think about the duties at hand and about who will best fulfill them.

If you’re having trouble, think about each person’s strengths and weaknesses and let these guide you. For instance, if you’re a natural numbers person, accounting might fall under your jurisdiction, whereas another task such as marketing might be within your spouse’s purview.

Pitfall 2: Not Separating Work From Everyday Life

Many spouses who are in business with each other suffer from work-creep, the tendency to let business invade every corner of their lives. You don’t need a psychiatry doctorate to know that this isn’t healthy, but you do need to be savvy enough to identify when it’s happening.

Avoid business talk at all costs when the days’ work is done. Shift to family mode, which could include enjoying each other’s company while working out or spending time on individual hobbies or sports. If one of you slips and brings up something work related, call the partner out – gently of course – and reiterate that it can wait.

Pitfall 3: Giving Up Alone Time

Sometimes you just need to be apart from your significant other, which can sometimes be at odds with a workplace that forces you together. One way to gain some space is to work different hours. For instance, if you run a 24-hour convenience store, you might consider overlapping shifts. If you do work the same hours, then split up for lunch or take breaks on a different schedule.

Pitfall 4: Lack of a Devil’s Advocate

Some couples are so energized by each other’s thoughts about starting and running a business, they sometimes forget the realities they face. That’s when a devil’s advocate can come in handy – someone who’ll give it to you straight without sugarcoating anything. If the two of you can’t look at things with a healthy skepticism, appoint someone who will. It will be worth it.

Pitfall 5: Not Preparing Financially

The upside to running a business with your spouse is the fact that you can turn dreams and hard work into wealth. The downside, however, is that you both sink or swim together. If one of you fails, you both fail, and there’s little way around this cold, hard fact. To avoid this fate, it pays to prepare financially so you have some financial resources to rely on if things start slowly at first or hit a dry spell.

Being in a business relationship with your spouse demands commitment and determination. By avoiding the pitfalls shown here, you can improve your chances of success.

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