Is it a good idea to start a business with my husband? How do I safeguard my personal relationship with him?

Name withheld | Posted on 11 May 2016
Counsellor : Deepak Kashyap
Ask Deepak | Is it a good idea to start a business with spouse? | Bonobology

Q: My husband and I are attempting to start our own business. While this is extremely exciting, I'm also a bit worried about the effect that it will have on our marriage. It's going to be stressful in the initial phases of our business and I don't want the stress to come home with us and make our household tense. Do you have any advice or tips on how we can successfully work together and build our business, but also keep our relationship as strong as possible?

Doing business is tough, period. Doing it with someone you love is even tougher. His or her actions will affect not only your finances, but also the romantic aspect of your life. I do not, by any means, want to sound discouraging, or suggest that no couple has ever achieved this successfully. But I do want you to brace yourself for certain inevitable, stressful and challenging situations entrepreneurs face, whether they are couples or not. Business is one of those things that no amount of education can fully prepare you for; it is an experience one has to have for oneself.

Some of my suggestions are as follows:

Choose the line of business and divide the work according to your interest and abilities. It is important to not commit to something that you won’t be terribly good at or would not be interested in learning about. Honesty and frankness are the virtues one must develop.

Boundaries will help manage the influence of love life on work life and vice-versa. In the office space, behave as professionally as possible. For example, pet names and expectations might have to be kept in check, and at home one might have to be acutely aware of the power dynamics and overload of the work that one brings into one’s living space.

Try not to take things too personally when things go wrong; courteous language and grammar of ‘I’ as oppose to ‘you’ would be most helpful. For instance, “I feel what needs to be done is…” is a much better sentence than “You don’t seem to understand that … needs to be done.”

Don’t forget to also have fun with what you are doing.

Attend professional workshops for start-ups. Learn the ground realities of the business that you are choosing to do as much as you can.

Whenever you hit a roadblock as a couple or an individual, pause, review and learn without blame. All the best!

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