Entrepreneur Couples: How to make running a business with your partner work

Running a business with your partner should be fun and fulfilling. Working with someone that you love and trust, what could be better?

Entrepreneur Couples: How to make running a business with your partner work

Running a business with your partner should be fun and fulfilling.  Working with someone that you love and trust, what could be better?

The main reason for failure of business partnerships is a breakdown in the relationship between the founders. Running a business with your partner adds extra strain to your relationship because there are additional pressures of money, strategy, staff, and all without an easy escape to home life.

A great business and a loving relationship is a wonderful place to be. Loving each other and a mediocre business may be much better than a great business and a failing relationship. 

What can you do to ensure that running a business with your partner is a success for the business and for the two of you as a couple? Here are ten tips to protect your relationship and have a successful business.

Who is in charge?

You cannot have two Captains. One of you needs to be in overall control of the day to day.  There also needs to be real clarity of your individual roles. 

In a new business you will be sharing and doing everything. It is fun and engaging to have all hands to the pump. You grow by creativity and shared effort. This is the birth, the existence stage.

As you grow through the stages of survival, success, take-off and maturity the business will change and you will become more reliant on delegation, other people and processes rather than just doing.  You are likely to respond very differently to the changes in your roles and the environment. You may be going on this journey at different speeds, but both need to be very clear of the stage the business is at and remain aligned on their respective roles.

You are different people

You may think that you are very similar because you love each other.  You are both very different people! You will work to different rhythms and have varying priorities.  

This can cause frustration as at any time one of you will feel that you are working harder than the other and being more effective. Look at the bigger picture and play to each other’s strengths.

Work stops at the front door

It is so easy for work to invade the rest of your lives and for the pillow talk to be all about what happened in the office.  You both need to ensure that you have a clear segregation between work and home.

You are colleagues at work

When you are at work, treat each other as colleagues, when you are at home, treat each other as lovers/partners.  If not, there will be huge potential for dissonance, dissension and drifting apart. It could also create confusion and embarrassment for employees.

There is more to life than work

You both need a social life and an escape from each other.  If you are together 24/7 it will begin to feel like imprisonment.  Make time for separate activities and cultivate your own friendships

Also, if you have children ensure that they are having your time and attention so they have a wonderful childhood; they are not your employees.

Set very clear boundaries about what can be talked about at home and at work.  If you do have personal disagreements, these must be dealt with at home otherwise your work team will be put in an invidious position of feeling the tension and trying to avoid taking sides.

Calibrate your relationship

This is a relationship that must be nurtured otherwise both of you and the business will suffer.

On a regular basis you should calibrate, out of 10, each of the 6 elements of The Relationship Paradigm. This needs to be done separately for your work persona and your persona as a couple:


  • Are you both able to express how you are feeling and be truly listened to? 
  • Are there any elephants in the room that you have been unable to discuss?


  • How connected do you feel with each other?
  • Is the relationship as strong as it used to be?


  • Are you equally committed to the success of the business?
  • Are you committed to the happiness and fulfilment of each other? 


  • When did the two of you last have fun together?
  • Are you so focused on work that this is a distant memory?


  • Are the ‘you’ and ‘me’ both growing as individuals?
  • Is the ‘us’ of the couple growing and thriving?


  • Do you trust each other implicitly?
  • Can you rely on them to be there for you?

If the scores for any of these is less than 8, there is real attention needed otherwise you will start to drift apart in business and personal life.

Follow these tips and continuing love and success could be yours!

Neil Wilkie
Neil Wilkie

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