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Is Your Spouse The Perfect Business Partner
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Choosing a business partner for a new business is a huge responsibility and will have a large impact on a company’s success. Therefore, entrepreneurs need to weigh all of their options when deciding on who their business partner should be. Often times, having a business partner can be a good strategy. An entrepreneur who does not have the comprehensive knowledge and experience in starting a new business may decide to hire a business partner who has more familiarity and aptitude in the field. This alliance may be a good combination, especially if the new business partner can improve the company’s chances of success.

Some investors, such as venture capitalists, may be very hesitant to lend money to entrepreneurs who do not have any experience in the industry; therefore, having at least one business partner with experience in the field can increase the company’s chance of raising capital. It also gives the new business more credibility and creates an impressive corporate profile for their portfolio.

Your spouse as your business partner
Many entrepreneurs who are starting a new business may consider having their spouse as their business partner. This may be a very difficult decision to make and one that needs to be given extremely careful thought since business partnerships are a long-term investment in itself. One question that every business owner may ask themselves is if they are ready to work day in and day out with their spouse. Working all day long and coming home to the spouse and family is one thing; however, working full-time with a spouse as a business partner only to return home to them is another.

Problems experienced at work can certainly manifest themselves in the home and what was once initially a solid relationship between a husband and wife may eventually be strained. Before deciding on whether to have a spouse as a business partner or not, entrepreneurs need to keep in mind many different things such as the personalities of the two individuals, the work dynamics, long-term goals, and the joint roles of each business partner. If both individuals can find themselves compatible with these components, then it is possible that having a business partner as a spouse may actually be a good predilection. If, on the other hand, both business partners differ greatly, then they should maybe not consider a joint venture. There are no set criteria for choosing a spouse as a business partner; however, there are a few essential factors to bear in mind. When reviewing all the vital elements below, it is very important to take into account the spouse as both a business partner and as a married partner.

Personality
Regardless of who they may be, whether it is a spouse, peer, or business associate, an individual’s personality is always a good indicator of how well two people can harmoniously work together. If a spouse is lazy and tends to procrastinate, then they will most likely do the same in the workforce, limiting the amount of responsibilities at hand. If the spouse is opinionated and temperamental, then these characteristics may also transfer, creating problems for the new business as well at home. A new business owner needs to seriously consider their spouse’s behavior and characteristics before deciding whether or not their spouse will be a good business partner.

More questions to reflect upon include the following: If personality differences exist, can you, the business owner, and your spouse work harmoniously full-time as business partners? How will you handle business-related conflicts and discrepancies? Are you or your spouse willing to change or modify your behavior for the benefit of the business? How can you ensure that problems with your business partner will not be continued at home? Are you, the business owner, willing to respect and accept the personality differences of your business partner and how can you both amicably resolve issues?

Work ethic
Another important component to consider when determining if a spouse will make a good business partner is by observing their overall work ethic. Even though work habits differ greatly between individuals, here are some questions to consider: Do you, the business owner, believe your spouse to be a hard-working individual? Is your spouse one to complete projects in a timely manner or are their assignments often incomplete? Will your business partner be willing to sacrifice working long hours for extended periods of time to ensure your company’s success or does your business partner expect more leniencies with their work schedule since you are their spouse? How does your spouse handle stress? Do they perform well under pressure or do they avoid tasks that require time and energy to complete? Are you, the business owner, willing to share power and control with your business partner and will they be receptive of such a role?

If your spouse procrastinates, how will you go about ensuring that their tasks be completed as scheduled? How can you and your business partner distinguish between the important versus insignificant tasks at work? How can you both set priorities so that no resentment occurs between both parties? Are you willing to accept that one business partner may do more work than the other yet share equal salary?

Business roles
A major problem of having a spouse as a business partner is a conflict of job roles. Often times, married couples take on the traditional responsibilities at work as they do at home. For example, the husband, who is often the head of the household and major income earner, often leads his business, manages the staff, and takes control of every company decision. His wife, on the other hand, may assume a more subordinate role as a business partner as she does at home. This collaboration can complement each business partner greatly if both parties have no problem with assuming such roles. However, it is easier said than done. Perhaps the wife may want more of an active role as a business partner than as a passive one, which can create conflict if the husband is not willing to share his power. On the other hand, the husband may want his wife to take a more aggressive role in running the company rather than being subordinate.

Regardless of the situation, both husband and wife should agree with their roles as business partners rather than expect or assume responsibilities. To avoid such tensions and quarrels among spouses, the resolution would be for both business partners to have separate company roles. A new business can certainly benefit from a structure where each business partner has their own leadership role within the enterprise. Both husband and wife should be assigned a different department within the company where they can effectively lead and operate that division to the best of their ability. Through this manner, they have their own responsibilities and can avoid conflicts because of their independent duties.

Communication
Entrepreneurs should always make an effort to communicate with their staff, management team, investors, etc., so there are no misunderstandings and discrepancies in the workforce. The same rules apply to their business partners. If they are considering their spouse as a potential business partner, they should effectively exchange thoughts and ideas on a daily basis at both home and work. Entrepreneurs should first take the time out to communicate with their spouse about being business partners, find out if they share the same interests in the business, and if they are willing to take on the various responsibilities of joint partnership.

Another issue that requires ample communication is if the family is willing to sacrifice everything or "put all its eggs in one basket." Establishing a new business is considered risky and requires an extraordinary amount of personal and financial commitment. Most families prefer to have one partner working a regular job while the other works on stabilizing the new business.

There can also be a possibility that the spouse may not be as interested in becoming a business partner because it simply does not interest them. Rather than assume that a spouse will agree to be a business partner, the entrepreneur should communicate with them effectively to find out if such collaboration can be made. A spouse that is interested in becoming a business partner and shares the same business concerns as the entrepreneur will be a more effective worker than one who gets bored easily because they are not interested.

If a spouse agrees to become a business partner, then the entrepreneur should make well-defined business goals that both parties agree to. Priorities should be set and expectations should be made that are acknowledged by both the entrepreneur and their spouse. Many times, a business partner may have prospects and assume that the other partner shares the same outlook, when, in reality, both parties have no idea of what was expected of each other. To avoid such inconsistencies, communication should be made a fundamental means by which there is a proper understanding between both business partners.

Balancing act
Quite too often, business partners, who are spouses, have a difficult time separating their professional and personal life. Problems at home can easily carry on to the workforce and vice versa. Relationship strains can occur and divorce can be a high possibility unless a balance between home life and work life can be made. Before an entrepreneur considers their spouse as a business partner, they should be aware of the possibility that tensions can rise in the workforce and be brought home. This should be discussed with their spouse, and a plan should be devised for both business partners to follow in order to ensure that both personal and professional life will not be carried over in both environments.

Corporate structure
While deciding on whether a spouse may be a good business partner or not, the entrepreneur should take into consideration the organization of their company. Some legal structures have more advantages for spouse business partners than others. For example, couples that seek equal ownership may take into account designating their business as a partnership, LLC, or corporation. Within these legal entities, one owner can run the business while the other can intermittently resume their role when needed. Despite the difference in roles, both partners are formal owners of the business.

Conclusion
Having a spouse as a business partner can be a good collaboration. If both parties share the same business-related interests and have the same goals for their company, then it can certainly be a solid, respectful partnership. However, if one business partner is not as interested in the joint venture or if one may be more overpowering than the other, problems can easily arise. In addition, effective communication can prevent any discrepancies and resentment that can occur at home and work. If an entrepreneur is considering their spouse to become their business partner, rules must apply. Priorities should be coordinated between parties and long-term business goals should be made. In addition, both the entrepreneur and spouse business partner should be assigned distinct roles at work so they can be a leader in their own division.

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