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Working With Your Spouse

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Bottom Line/Personal: It’s very tempting – as people are thinking about starting businesses, the #1 thing they often do is they’ll bring their spouse into their business. What are the things that people need to think about before they start a business with their spouse?

Nancy Collamer: Yeah, it can be the best of times and the worst of times when you start a business with a spouse.

Bottom Line: Growing up in a family business, I’ve seen it all.

Collamer: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve heard really wonderful stories; I once interviewed a couple who were working together, and it was such a great situation for them. They were able to travel together and do all sorts of things, which is great. We also hear the horror stories, so a couple of things to think about.

The first is you really need to take a hard look at your finances because now you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. You want to work together on a business that, hopefully, is going to generate money, but at the same time not risk everything that you’ve worked so hard to save.

Bottom Line: To that point, then, is it a good idea for people, depending on what the business is, if one spouse is in it full-time and the other one transitions into the business and is part-time with some other job?

Collamer: Yeah, I think that’s an excellent suggestion. And it’s also a great way to test things out and see how you work together. Which brings me to the second point, which is that you really need to think about what are the skills and the personality traits that you both bring to this business? Ideally, you have complementary skills, and you can each have your own separate areas of influence. If you’re both trying to do the same thing at the same time, that’s a recipe for conflict.

Finally, I think you also really need to make sure that you have open and direct communication and set boundaries because you don’t want this business taking over your life. Particularly in today’s world with technology, all of us are working 24/7 sometimes, it seems, and that can be really challenging in a marriage. So set the boundaries.

Bottom Line: It was really hard, again, growing up in a family business, where business was family and family was business. You start to lose relationships. So to your point, that it’s important for people to do their business and then still take time to nurture their personal relationship.

Collamer: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Bottom Line: All right. Great advice. Thank you, Nancy Collamer.

Collamer: You’re welcome.

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Nancy Collamer, a career counselor, speaker, and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. She also writes a semi-monthly career column for NextAvenue.com (PBS) and Forbes.com. MyLifestyleCareer.com

Date: January 30, 2015 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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