Launching a home-based business with your spouse sounds like a great idea.
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But are you really prepared for the challenges that arise when a marriage and a business collide? Without appropriate organization upfront, something will inevitably suffer – your business, your marriage, or both.
Starting a business with your spouse is always challenging. However, the challenges are multiplied when the business is based out of your home, mostly because all the stresses of the business and the family all happen under one roof. The key to successfully navigating a home-based business with your spouse is to establish boundaries by carefully outlining responsibilities and procedures. Combined with a liberal amount of communication between spouses, these boundaries will go a long way toward preventing misunderstandings and resentment in both your home and business.
Even though the important decision-making in the business should be done together, the roles each individual plays in the business need to be clearly defined. For example, one spouse may be responsible for sales, marketing, and networking while the other is responsibility for bookkeeping, ordering, and office tasks. But whatever arrangement you choose, make sure role assignments are based on each individual's skills and experience, rather than traditional gender roles.
From the outset of your business, it's important to clarify each person's goals in the business and in the marriage. If one spouse's goal is to work in the business for a year and then step back to play a larger role in the family or pursue another career, that needs to be understood from Day One – and then both spouses should work toward making that goal a reality in the desired timeframe. The worst mistake you can make is to assume that your spouse will be so enamored with the business that they will change their mind before the deadline.
In a home-based business scenario, your kids will be involved in the daily operation of your company whether you like it or not. Unless someone provides the care and attention your kids need, they will quickly become a distraction that is impossible to ignore. Some home-based business marriages have an arrangement in which, at a certain point of the day, one of the spouses steps out of business mode and into family mode. Others decide to bring in outside help with childcare so both spouses can concentrate on the responsibilities of the business without disruption.
Conflicts in the business can easily spill over into conflicts in the kitchen. Without an effective plan for conflict resolution, there is a high likelihood that business-related conflicts will take over every aspect of your life. The best way to contain business issues is to hold regular, weekly meetings with your spouse for business-related matters. You should also establish a mutual agreement in which points of dissension are discussed exclusively in the context of the business meeting, or (if necessary) during other working hours . . . but never after you have "left the office".