Why it Pays to Slow Down When Starting a Business With Your Spouse

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Self employment is growing ever more popular. Recent statistics showed that 4.61 million people in the UK are self employed, which is almost as many as work in the public sector. What might be surprising is that huge numbers of these new self-employed people are leaving established careers to set up in business with their spouse.

For some people, working with their husband or wife sounds like a dream. For others, it’s probably more of a nightmare! If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to set up shop with your other half, perhaps now is the time to do it.

However, I do have a key piece of advice for you: slow down! It’s wonderful to be enthusiastic about a new venture, but rushing into something could be a mistake. After all, you and your spouse may be perfectly matched to be partners in life… but being partners in business is something else entirely.

I always recommend that couples who are thinking about going into business together take the time to do a ‘viability test’. Taking this extra step before you get too committed to the idea of going into business could save you from far bigger problems further down the line.

This is an excellent way to ensure that you have covered all practicalities before you start.

For your viability test, consider:

Do you and you spouse have the same vision?

It’s important to ask the question why. If you want to go into business to challenge yourself to achieve more, but your partner wants to be self-employed so he can take more holiday time, you may find that your venture is somewhat doomed before it begins! Successful business partners need to have similar scale ambitions.

Do you have complementary skills?

The skill base you and your spouse have to offer between you will impact on how well prepared your business will be. Ideally you’ll both have something of value to bring to the business. Those skills may be the same (for example, two marketers starting a marketing agency together) or they may be different (for example, a super organised administrator and a photographer starting a photo studio together). Either way, you need to be confident that you both have a similar amount to offer.

Do you both feel prepared to handle the other one’s weaknesses?

We all have strengths, yes, but we also all have weaknesses. If you’re planning on going into business with someone, it’s important to be aware of what those weaknesses are. It’s also key for you both to be honest about how able you feel to deal with them in a business setting. For example, you may find your spouse’s scatterbrain tendencies endearing at home… but will you feel the same about them in the office?

Do you thrive in similar environments?

How do you and your other half like to work? It’s wise to make sure you’ve thought about logistics. Every day considerations such as workspaces and schedules will have a big impact on how content you both are within the business.

If you take the time to do a viability test with your spouse, it’s likely that you’ll have built a much stronger base for your business than if you just jumped straight in. You’ll also probably find that the conversations you have during this stage bring up one or more big red flags.

You’ll be able to solve many of these red flag issues with careful consideration and planning. However, in some cases you may come across a problem that you just can’t get around. Sometimes not doing something is the right decision!

If you and your spouse would like some support during the ‘viability test’ process, I’m here to help. Why not get in touch?

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