Owning a business with your husband or wife is pretty common. In fact, the National Federation of Independent Businesses says 43 percent of US small businesses are family-owned and run, with 53 percent all sharing a role in the daily operations.
Based on that figure, with approximately 30 million small businesses in America, according to 2019 statistics from the Small Business Administration, that means there are almost 13 million family-run businesses.
Experts in business, psychology and finance agree that it’s not easy to manage a business with your life-partner, much less trying to manage a marriage and everything that goes along with it. So why do couples choose to go into business together? Every situation is different, but some of the main reasons include:
- Financial Goals. Couples can make more money by working together rather than by hiring outside executive staff. Who else cares more than helping you grow the business than someone equally invested in it?
- Time. Many couples enjoy each other’s company and talents, so spending more time together while working or traveling for work together is an added bonus.
- Passion. Sharing a passion that you both feel strongly about can bring couples even closer together.
- Trust. Who better to go into business with than someone you trust implicitly and has your back 100%?
Of course, there are lots of challenges when running a business with your partner and crafting a business plan is probably one of the most important steps you can take to avoid any confusion or oversight. All businesses can benefit from a business plan, but when a business is owned and managed by a married couple, it’s especially helpful to understand each other’s roles from the very beginning.
“Having a title and clearly-defined roles is incredibly important when running a business together,” says Jeanette Bonfiglio, CFO of Tint World. “Not only is this a good way to create separation based on your areas of expertise, but when you have employees, it helps guide them to the appropriate person based on the nature of the request. This also allows them to see you both as individuals, in a more professional setting.”
Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™ is a franchise brand that’s run by spouses Jeanette Bonfiglio, CFO, and Charles Bonfiglio, CEO. For the sixth year in a row, Tint World was named in Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise 500 list as one of the top 500 franchises in the United States and currently has more than 80 stores nationwide. While running a successful franchise business is certainly part of the Bonfiglio’s ultimate goals, some of this success is also due to the foundation of teamwork that they have built together over the years.
“It’s all about finding out what works for both of you,” says Bonfiglio. “Over the years, we have been able to find a healthy balance between work and our personal lives. Of course, we love what we do, so things don’t just completely shut down when the doors lock. Conversations about business will still come up from time to time, but they are held in a way that always ensures they benefit our family. As an example, involving our children in some of these discussions helps to expose them to the different aspects of our business and educate them along the way.” The Bonfiglios also have the added experience of being franchisees themselves. “As someone who was once a franchisee myself, I know firsthand what it’s like to be a franchise owner. Managing your own franchise location doesn’t just happen between the hours of 9am to 5pm. As a franchisor, those experiences have helped me relate to our franchisees in unique way”.
The experts agree with Bonfiglio. Just as psychologists stress the importance of having “alone time” and “going away together” to keep a marriage healthy, being married and owning a business together can put added pressures on a couple. One technique that couples can try is the “leave work at work” approach, while remaining flexible and mindful of anything urgent that may still come up along the way.
Franchise businesses are often purchased by husband-and-wife teams, and relationship experts say this can be a perfect opportunity for couples who want to work together to strengthen their relationship and work toward a common goal. Lifestyle website, Wisestep, suggests couples who work together can have a successful business and a successful marriage by keeping an open mind and trying some of these tips: Outsource some of the household chores to reduce time spent on routine tasks, spend time doing something good for others, remember to keep family at the top of your list, keep the channels of communication open, and most of all, listen to each other.
As a business owner who has worked with family members, and as the CEO of Ripley PR, a global public relations firm that works with family-owned businesses like Tint World, I can relate to the challenges couples who are also business owners can face. By all accounts it’s challenging, but the rewards can be amazing.
Heather Ripley is CEO of Ripley PR, a global public relations agency specializing in B2B and franchising. Orange Orchard, a division of Ripley PR, champions franchisors that cater to environmentally-conscious consumers. For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com or www.orangeorchardpr.com.