Starting a Business Together as a Couple

Nothing is more exhilarating than pursuing your passion and getting paid for it. But not everyone will have the guts—or the time and energy!—to turn their passion into a business. Yep, it takes so much more than just good ideas.

When you decide, as a couple, to start a new business, it can be a time of much challenge and reward. Joy and I recently invested in a convenience store franchise. I must say, we thought we already knew each other well, but the process unveiled so many more facets of our different personalities.

For example, during the months of compulsory training, we noticed that Joy was the one diligent to absorb everything, taking notes, making plans, memorizing systems. I, on the other hand, was also around for the trainings, but I spent most of my time getting to know the different people on the team. This seemed to be the exact opposite of what she and I used to do! But we learned that through the process of starting the business, our different strengths were showing up in ways that we hadn’t observed before.

All that to say, starting a new business together as a couple can be an exciting adventure! But you also need to be aware that it comes with its own set of challenges, so in this post, we hope to equip you to jump into your new venture with ease.

 Starting a new venture together is an investment, not just financially, but also into your relationship, because you are committing to pursue a shared dream together, 
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Top 5 Tips for Starting a New Business as a Couple

Here are our top 5 tips to help you start a new business as a couple:

1. Decide on the business model that fits you.

Are you the type that thrives on starting things from scratch, or do you perform better when a system is already in place? Sometimes, both of you will have different preferences, and this is where detailed conversation comes in.

In our case, Joy and I both love pioneering things, which we have done in our involvement in nonprofits. But for business, we both decided that we wanted to start with a tested and proven system, which is why we opted for a franchise instead of starting from the ground up.

2. Discuss your expectations and limitations.

When starting a new business, you both need to be clear about what you expect from each other and what you are both able to give. For example, if you’re starting the business while one of you is still working full-time, it won’t be reasonable to expect that spouse to put in as many hours as the other. Or, if you’re going into business at a time when the kids are young, you also need to take this into consideration.

Joy and I had an interesting experience when we were deciding on how many staff members to hire. I initially proposed not hiring anyone at all, believing that we could, with our elderly parents and older kids, man the ship all by ourselves! Joy was more realistic: she saw our current responsibilities—such as our school work, our coaching career, and all our other commitments—and knew that it just was not possible. But for a time, I wouldn’t budge from my position.

Finally, when we tried spending whole days running the store, I realised that she was right: we really needed to hire people if we wanted to keep doing all our other responsibilities.

The same is true for any other couple starting a new business: you need to sit down and discuss your current schedules and responsibilities. Are there things that you may need to give up for a season to get your new business off the ground? What commitments do you really need to follow through on and therefore need to adjust the time you can give to the new venture?

3. Appreciate each other’s strengths.

When you start a new business together, you’re essentially deciding to work together! If you haven’t worked together before, this can cause surprising tension between you, because, after all, you are two different people with different working styles.

For example, when we wanted to increase our sales, Joy and I had totally different ways of going about it. I would glance at the items in our store and decide to go on a big sale. She, on the other hand, would go on detailed mode, checking which particular product was selling well, and putting those more prominently on the shelves, and all that nitty-gritty that I just didn’t have the energy for.

But it’s not saying that one of us is right and the other is wrong; we just had different ways of viewing things and different ideas of how to get the same results.

4. Give room for mistakes.

Going on a new venture isn’t a road clear of any obstacles. Because you’re learning new things, chances are, you will make mistakes along the way. The important thing is that you both know these would happen, and to give allowance for each other when this happens—notice, when this happens, and not if this happens.

When our store first opened, I made a mistake about ordering inventory too late. Joy and I had to deal with the frazzled emotions of not having stock to offer customers when they came looking for a particular product, and we had to learn not to blame each other.

5. Enjoy the process!

Lastly, we encourage you to enjoy the process and get to know each other better through the process. Take the time to learn new things about each other, and find regular time to have a heart-to-heart talk about these new discoveries.

Starting a Business Together Can Be a Shared Dream

Starting a new venture together is an investment, not just financially, but also into your relationship. Why do we say this? You are committing to pursue a shared dream together, whether it be in terms of what you hope to achieve with your business, or even in terms of financial goals. That’s always a beautiful thing, even if you have to go through much trouble to achieve it!

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