Working With Your Spouse

When my husband and I first retired I was very keen on the idea of starting a business with him. I didn’t really care what we did, as long as there was an income and something that provided a chance to use creativity. We had both retired from the nine to five world and I was not quite ready to retire completely.

My brother and sister-in-law had opened their own coffee shop and it looked like fun to me. It looked like fun until I heard that they often got up at 4:00 a.m. to make sure everything was ready for people on their way to work. It looked like fun until I heard the horror stories of trying to find reliable help. And it sounded like fun until they were forced to sell their business.

Fortunately for me, my husband brought me back to reality with the statistic that half of all small businesses fail in the first year. And for those that succeed, another fifty percent will fail within the next five years.

I thought I had lost the urge to work with my husband until I recently read an article about couples who work together and saw a book entitled Couplepreneurs: Prosperity through Partnership, written by Jean Charles. The book is written to help couples already in business together, or couples who are thinking of going into business together. However, Charles also notes that most small business fail within the first few years of operation, regardless if whether or not they are run by married couples. But if done carefully, husband and wives might have a better chance of succeeding than regular business partners.

Having a plan is key. I guess that was the step I could never get past. I never fully developed a plan. However, I do believe one of the advantages of being in business with a partner is that you know their work and life ethic. Often you complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

However, one lesson I learned in retirement, is that it is an adjustment in itself. To start a business at this stage of the game takes a lot of courage. And the thought of jeopardizing all that you have worked to have over the years is daunting. No matter what idea or plan you come up with, as the National Federation of Business Education Foundation points out, 39% of small businesses are profitable, 30% break even, and 30% lose money.

Retirement is different things to different people. If starting a business, or being your own boss has always been your dream, and you and your partner work well together, it might be a worthwhile idea to explore.

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