After two children, several layoffs and a midlife crisis, Ilene Rosenzweig and Rick Marin decided to put the ball in their own court and start a business together. The couple now runs a successful writing company, and they always have a red pen ready to critique the other's work. Although it hasn't always been easy, their shared business helped them get to know each other better and ultimately strengthened their relationship. It was only possible, they told RedBook, because they set and followed a few ground rules.
Significant but Different Roles
If you're happy being your spouse's employee, give him the manager's hat and grab an apprentice's apron. Clear roles make working together easier. However, most couples aren't going to go for the boss-employee model. Instead, recognize that you both have significant but different roles in the company and play to your strengths.
If you're the one with an eye for fashion while your spouse is the one with a gift for gab, have him focus on sales while you handle the other aspects of running a decorating company. If necessary, brush up on your skills so you can support each other. If your spouse is a chef and you have no restaurant experience, take a class in restaurant management or one of the other areas where your gourmand struggles.
Outsource Your Weak Spots
Your spouse will be more aware of and sensitive to your mistakes than a regular business partner would be. Rather than set yourself up for failure by taking on more than you can handle, outsource as much as possible. Use online accounting software to tackle the books, have a graphic designer create your business logo rather than trying to come up with one yourself and hire a cleaning lady to clean up around the office.
Make Home an Oasis
The average small business owner works six days per week for about 52 hours per week, according to Wells Fargo. During the first year or two, these hours can be much higher, and when you're constantly on the go, it's hard to manage a home as well as a business.
If work is a stress spot, home needs to be an oasis. To keep your home relaxed, outsource your cleaning to your teens or hire a once-a-week cleaning service. Cook meals in batches so when you get home exhausted, you can pull something tasty and fast out of the freezer. The chance to relax together in a clean home is critical for most couples, but especially for those who have to share the stresses of running a business.
And don't bring your business everywhere. Pillow talk about sales numbers and website design may help your bottom line, but it won't ignite your relationship.
Everybody knows that couples fight more about money than any other topic. By starting a business together, you could be tempting fate. To keep things under control, have some neutral third parties involved—for example, an accountant who can help you maintain clarity on financial matters. Identify your weak spots when it comes to teamwork, and pop a referee in the middle.