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According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 43% of small businesses are family businesses (defined as two or more family members managing a venture that at least one family member owns). Of those businesses, 53% of managers identify a spouse as the family member who is sharing day-to-day management.  (January 30, 2013;


Husband /wife businesses have increased over the past decade and if the trend continues we are likely to see a surge in this unique business model.   


As you might imagine, this husband-wife model can be a blessing or not depending on multiple factors.


For many entrepreneurs, being married to their business partner is an asset to both their professional success and personal relationship, according to Stewart Friedman, Wharton practice professor of management. “The trust you have in [your spouse as co-manager] is greater than you are likely to have with any other business partner in your life…. It can be exciting to share the joys of accomplishment together. And as a business professional, you’re apt to learn more and faster, and to see different perspectives, because you’re able to be so vulnerable with each other.”

There are challenges associated with starting and running any business, which are magnified when the business partners are also married.  Here are 2 pitfalls that are very common among husband-wife run businesses:


Relationship intensity


When you work and live together day in and day out it can become a real drain on your relationship especially when the business or marriage (or both) are not going well.


What you can do:


Make a commitment from the beginning and re-commit regularly to keeping business out of the bedroom and your personal life out of the your work environment. 


I realize that this is easier said than done yet with a committed decision and practice this separation will benefit everyone involved, including other employees.


Make sure you give youself alone or “down time” during the day when you are able.  Even taking 5-10 minutes away from each other can be beneficial.  You do not have to be attached at the hip and in fact being together all the time is not generally healthy.


When feasible (I highly recommend this) have separate work areas in your company whether you are working from home or have a brick and mortar building.


Little or no separation between work and home life


There are those rare couples that have no trouble separating work and home or are so driven that the distinction is blurred and they relish all the time.  Yet, for the majority of husband-wife businesses, being able to transition from work to home and create a balance is critical to the health of the relationship. Bringing business to bed can kill the passion and intimacy that is also essential in a healthy marriage.


What you can do:


Early on-establish when shop talk ends, perhaps have a “no shop talk at dinner” rule or create a date night where you only have fun-no business discussed unless you mutually agree. 


Definitely have a business free zone in your bedroom.  If something comes up that is urgent and must be handled before the next work day designate who will handle it based on the clearly defined roles and responsibilities each partner has.


These same rules apply at work….personal business stays at home unless in the case of a true family emergency.  Being professional sets the stage for the team as well.


There are so many benefits of the husband-wife run business when you are both suited for working together and plan accordingly for the inevitable challenges.


P.S.  If you would like more support in applying these principles, give us a call.  In between our speaking and coaching engagements, we carve out a few individualized sessions each month. Schedule your appointment here.


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