Are you considering buying a franchise with your spouse? For many couples, this is an ideal way to get into business ownership together. As a couple, you’ve already learned to run a household together, make compromises when necessary, and work as a team to make big decisions. But if you’re imagining the two of you spending carefree days together, beaming with love and running through fields of daisies in between running your frozen yogurt franchise, there are some realities you should consider first:
1. Do you have complementary skills? If one of you excels at sales and marketing, and the other is good at accounting and operations, you’ve got the makings of a very successful business partnership. However, if both of you have similar skills, your franchise will be weak in certain areas, so you’ll need to hire an employee who can handle the duties you can’t.
2. How will you divide responsibilities? You and your spouse need to clearly divvy up your roles within the business. This lessens conflict between you, and lessens confusion among employees since they will know who has the final say in each area. Here’s where having complementary skills comes in handy, making it easier to separate your roles. But even if both of you are accounting and bookkeeping experts, you need to jointly decide which of you will officially be in charge of that area.
3. Can you be professional? When spouses work together, it’s important to maintain a professional relationship when dealing with employees, customers, and vendors. No matter what is going on in your personal life, you need to be able to put it aside and focus on the business.
4. How much togetherness can you take? Just because you love cooking doesn’t mean you’d love running a restaurant. And just because you love your spouse doesn’t mean you’d love spending 24/7 with him or her, especially in the often stressful world of running your own business. Just as turning a hobby into a business sometimes saps all the fun out of it, turning your spouse into a business partner sometimes drains all the charm from the relationship.
5. Are you in sync? Some couples spend all day working together, then go home and eagerly talk business at the dinner table and in bed. Others spend all day working together, then go home and completely shift gears, focusing only on their family and relationship. Both approaches can work; the key is that you both must have the same attitude. If you want to talk business till the wee hours, but your spouse doesn’t, you’re going to have problems working as partners.
Only you can decide if running a franchise with your spouse is the right move for you. Look within yourself, talk to your spouse, and have an open and honest discussion of the problems that might arise and how you would deal with them. The process of researching a franchise involves quite a bit of work in itself, so how well the two of you handle the responsibilities and decisions involved in research can be a good indicator of whether you should or shouldn’t move forward with a franchise purchase.
Buying a franchise involves hard work, challenges, and risk, both financial and otherwise. Buying a franchise with your spouse adds a whole new level of risk, because you’re putting all your family’s eggs in the same basket. At the same time, if you succeed, a family-owned franchise offers a whole new level of reward — the reward of knowing both of you are working together to build a strong financial future.
Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer at GrowBiz Media (www.growbizmedia.com), a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.