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Starting a Business with Your Partner: 10 Things to Know

Starting a Business with Your Partner: 10 Things to Know

Starting a business with your significant other is an exciting venture, and there are a lot of perks. After several weeks of quarantine, you may have even realized, “Hey, we can totally work together!” Still, no matter who you’re partners with, business brings obstacles — especially during a pandemic.

Whether it’s funding needs, personal management style, or company goals, there are a lot of hoops to jump through. And the thing is, you both have to jump through the same hoops, together. To help you gauge your future together in business, here are the top 10 things you should know ahead of time.

1. Communication Will Be a Constant Necessity

Practicing clear communication is a crucial part of any romantic relationship. It’s just as important in a business relationship, especially when your business partner is your romantic partner.

Be ready to have some uncomfortable conversations, differing opinions, and separate goals. With an open line of communication from the very start, you can get on the same page, work through your disagreements, align on the same goals, and own your own business to-dos.

2. There is a Major Trust Factor

Starting a business is a huge decision, and it requires total transparency. We’re not only talking about feelings and vision; we’re talking about financial transparency. Are there any hidden or forgotten debts? Credit scores you need to discuss? In order for this venture to work, honesty can’t be one-sided.

In this process, you’re both given the opportunity to positively or negatively impact the other person. Make it as positive as possible. Sure, one of you may not have the perfect credit score, but that means one of you can help build up the other’s credit score. In private, preparatory conversations, be clear and open with one another on the gritty parts, so your future is a lot brighter and more prosperous.

3. Goal Setting Should Be Done from the Get-Go

If you and your partner don’t share the same vision or goals, things can get a little messy. From the beginning, you’ll both want to establish your short and long-term goals for the business.

What type of franchise or industry are you looking at? Can you agree on a specific business idea? Are you both comfortable with a long-term relationship with this franchise or business? Then, after that, what’s your mission statement? What are your core values? Who do you want to serve? How big do you want this company to grow? What are your dreams for the business? Don’t wait until a few years in to align. Start now, before you commit.

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4. You’ll Need to Define Roles Based on Strengths

A business is successful when roles are defined. Even if you have similar experience and skills, it’s important to choose your roles based on your specific strengths and weaknesses. Over time, your strengths and weaknesses may change or evolve, so be adaptable. Use your personal strengths and passions to decide who goes where and is in charge of what.

At the same time, the roles of authority can’t simply be 50/50. When it comes down to it, if you both disagree 50/50 on a major decision, you’ll be at a standoff indefinitely. There has to be some basis of overruling — so, more like, 49/51 roles. That way, you have a better chance of creating an effective system for decision-making.

5. Be Ready for Personal Arguments about Business

When you work with your significant other, especially as owners of the business, you don’t really have an HR department. Things can get personal. For the sake of the business and the relationship, use communication and conflict resolution techniques that will get you through the discussion. Bringing in an expert mediator isn’t a bad idea, either. You’ll find that sometimes, all you needed was another point of view or just a little space and time for yourself — away from the business. Come back with a fresh mind, ready to find a solution with your partner.

6. Separate Work from Home Life — Even if Work is at Home

For many, working out of the house can be a challenge. Think of all the co-owner couples who are dealing with quarantine work life and home life right now. It isn’t easy, but something to think about as you prepare for the startup life with your partner is what that will look like at home. Who works in what space? Do you have a home office or at least a desk area? It’s important to have designated workspaces so that you can more easily separate home life from work life.

While in business together, you have to make rules for work-life balance. For example: “Talk business until dinner is on the table. Then, business is off the table.” Make sure you think of ways to carve out personal time, relationship time, and work time. Then, even when times get busy, try to hold onto those boundaries. Continue fulfilling your passion projects outside of work, and encourage your partner to do the same.

7. Plan Ahead for Stress

There’s a lot of pressure on you when starting a business: pressure to keep everything organized and financially stable, and pressure to keep everyone happy. The time will come when you both have weak moments, full of stress and anxiety. That’s why it helps to have a stress management plan. It will help you both return to a good business state of mind and a good relationship state of mind. Your plan may consist of yoga, deep breathing, relaxation videos, or frequent breaks — feel it out and do what’s best for each of you.

8. You Need a Financial Partner

Even when you’re in business together, sometimes it can feel like you’re doing it alone. Having a trusted partner on your financial side can help pave the way to success. After all, there will be some difficult, mandatory conversations around finances, especially if you both have differing opinions on assets and risk when it comes to this venture. Ultimately, these conversations should happen early on, as your joint assets or both signatures could be required to get the funding you need to get your business started.

Overall, the funding side of things can be complicated, and building a business can be expensive. At FranFund, we can take that process and simplify it, while still showing you all your options, whether that means leveraging a 401(k) or an SBA loan.

9. Encourage Each Other

Owning a business is a great investment, but it has its daunting moments and challenges. Along with potentially long hours (as a normal part of a startup), you’ll have financial hurdles to jump, paperwork to deal with, and clients to impress. So, when your significant other has a success, it means you do too. Genuinely celebrate and compliment each other, and do so with specifics: “You handled that phone call with the client so well. We’re going to be successful with this account because of your efforts.”

10. Make Sure to Have Fun

Finally, try to have a good time. Owning a business is exciting and can be quite a rush. Make sure you check in with each other to see if you’re both having fun. If one of you says, “Not right now,” that’s okay. It’s out in the open, and you can work together to change that answer. If you keep these tips in mind and use this checklist before making the commitment to starting a business with your partner, you’ll be set up for success.

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