Have you dreamed of owning your own business and working on your own terms? Maybe you and your romantic partner have discussed how wonderful it would be to start a business together, since you’re so compatible. You think of the success that brilliant entrepreneurial couples have achieved, like Bill and Melinda Gates. And you’d love for that to be true for you too.
I’ve seen many couples succeed, but they needed help from an impartial counselor to keep the lines of communication from being overly charged with emotion. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 60% of copreneurs or family businesses fail because of problems with communication and trust.
And yet the allure of entrepreneurship grips baby boomers and millennials alike. Interestingly, according to the Kaufmann Foundation, in their 2015 State of Entrepreneurship Study, baby boomers are twice as likely to launch a new business compared to millennials. They want to do something meaningful instead of retiring. And since they’re empty nesters, many baby boomer couples want to spend time working together.
It’s not that millennials don’t want to start their own businesses. A 2016 report from EY and the Economic Innovation Group found that 62 percent of millennials have considered starting their own business, but they just can’t afford it.
The entrepreneurial lifestyle can be extremely rewarding when you work with the ones you love. As I have said often, “Who better to trust with your business than your spouse?”
However, there is another side that should be looked at if you’re considering the entrepreneurial couple life. That is, just what are you missing in your marriage and your work life by working with your spouse? As a family business coach and author of “Entrepreneurial Couples – Making It Work at Work and at Home,” I’ve noticed some common challenges entrepreneurial couples face. Here are some of the top complaints I regularly hear…
1. No quality time together for romance and friendship.
One of the major complaints I hear from practically all entrepreneurial couples is that they no longer have enough quality time together for romance and friendship. Oddly enough, working together for many couples turns out to be the only thing they do together.
It’s easy to slip into work, work, work with your spouse at your side. You may not make a break for lunch to meet your spouse, because she’s sitting right next to you. You may not pick up the phone to call him at the office, when you can just toss a note on his desk. You talk about work all the way home and through dinner… if you even have dinner.
One of the best reasons not to work together is to keep your worlds separate, so you get to come home to each other every night. You’ll actually make more of an effort to reconnect with your family. When you’re working together, you may mistakenly assume that you don’t need to reconnect. But without that important psychological reconnecting, love starts to fade and fun with each other becomes a memory.
We have a strong need for recognition and approval from our spouses. We also have a strong need to feel like powerful, accomplished adults. But how do you feel about competing with your spouse? Can you gloat when you just bested your spouse?
Competing in the workplace with non-relatives is like playing a game of tennis with a worthy opponent. Even if you lose, you still feel okay about yourself because you did your best and your spouse supports you.
When couples work separately, they can be as competitive and goal oriented as they wish, with all of the support at home they need. They can be leaders in their respective fields with no fear of hurting the pride of their spouses. Without competition, each partner may become more receptive to hearing feedback from each other.
3. The world becomes too small.
In other words, they don’t get out much and experience new things that recharge their batteries and creativity. This is especially true for women.
Working separately enables each partner to learn about the outside world more. When the only feedback you get is from family it can be limiting. Feedback from non-family colleagues is usually more honest. Research confirms that family firms grow more slowly than non-family owned firms because of lack of creative feedback.
4. Not enough “me time”.
This often relates to the overwork that results from running the business. Plus there isn’t a spouse calling them to come home or arranging a special evening out.
Working separately defines your boundaries better, which make you more organized. That creates a sense of importance about sticking to priorities like taking care of your personal health and mental health.
There are many benefits to working separately from your spouse, just as there are benefits to being an entrepreneurial couple. When making life and career choices, it’s important to examine the whole picture, weighing the pros and cons.
If you love your spouse and think you will be great business partners, you may be well suited to the entrepreneurial lifestyle. On the other hand, you might want to examine what you will be losing before you take the plunge. You may be brave enough to take some financial risk in order to achieve a career dream, but what level of risk are you willing to take with your marriage?