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How to start a business with your spouse?

Original French by Marie-Josée Morency

Are you planning on buying or creating a business with your spouse? That sounds like a great project, but it does come with certain risks. Just because you are happy and in love doesn’t mean that things will be the same in business!

You must carefully plan for your business project to start off on the right foot. Take the time to prepare by consulting with specialists who will help you establish a solid, long-term business plan and an operating method that will leverage the skills and talents of each member of the couple.

Is it for you?

To start, objectively assess this entrepreneurial adventure by taking the time to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Is this type of project really for you? Sure, there are great advantages to going into business as a couple:

• You know your spouse’s values, strengths and weaknesses well and you can predict his or her reactions;

• You will fully trust your “partner”;

• You know how to mutually support one another and encourage each other to excel;

• You will be partners in a common, highly stimulating and rewarding project.

This is why close to half of Quebecers plan on going into business (45.8%) with their spouse according to the Réseau M 2017 Quebec Entrepreneurship Index.

Winning conditions

That said, going into business with one’s spouse also comprises certain risks. In love as in business, communication is the key to success. You must be able to clearly communicate with your spouse your vision of things and make sure to stack the deck in your favour by following a few basic rules:

• Avoid power struggles. Whether or not you’re associated with other partners, clearly define each person’s roles and responsibilities based on their specific strengths and skills. Specialized firms can help you better recognize these by completing psychometric and management tests. Who knows…your spouse, partners or even you might have some hidden entrepreneurial talents! As needed, the specialists will suggest ways to adjust your weaknesses (training, coaching, mentoring, etc.);

• Take care not to isolate yourselves, as a couple, from your partners and employees. Ask for their advice and let them participate in the decision-making, for example by integrating some of them in your decision-making committee;

• Managing a business is time consuming. Don’t let professional obligations take over your life: to the extent possible, avoid discussing work-related issues when you’re at home and put some time aside for couples’ activities;

• Don’t let emotions and emotional ties interfere with work. When you’re at the office, don’t discuss family issues;

• Going into business involves financial risks. Are you ready to take them on? It’s essential to have a sufficient financial cushion because often it can take several years before making a profit. On the other hand, if financial security is a source of stress and if money matters already cause tension within your couple, you might want to re-think the whole idea of going into business with your spouse;

• Expect the worst. Unfortunately, no couple is safe from a break up or death. Draw up a contract establishing what will become of the business’s assets or liabilities in such a case.

Are you planning on going into business with your spouse? We suggest you contact our experts. They will be pleased to help you.