For the over-50 set in particular, the economy has created a new breed of entrepreneurs: couples who want to start their own business. For many couples, working side by side seems like an ideal solution, a way to combine being your own boss with spending more time together. The first thing couples learn, though, is meshing their personal and business lives is a special challenge. My wife and I started a small service business in our late 50s and managed to make it work. Here are five tips based on our experience to help make your journey easier.
1. Share a Passion
Your business is likely to be more successful if you share a passion. It could be anything: an interest in art, a love for animals, a concern for the environment, or something else. It’s important to then determine if that shared passion can be translated into a viable business idea: something people want to buy. The best way to do this is develop a business plan that proves what you want to do can be turned into a sustainable business.
2. Fill Each Other’s Gaps
We learned that we each had particular strengths and weaknesses when it came to running a business. It would be easy for these qualities to become irritants, but instead we worked collaboratively to fill each other’s gaps. Everyone is good at some things but not so good at other things. If you can learn to compensate for each other’s weaknesses, accept each other’s strengths, and work toward a common goal, your business will benefit – and so will your personal relationship.
3. Set Goals Together
When you set goals together, you automatically internalize them. Writing down goals and agreeing on them makes them real. You want to set a goal that makes you reach a little but is still achievable. We set goals for lots of things: the starting date of our business, the number of clients we wanted to acquire, our anticipated income each year, and even how many years we wanted to run our business. Our goals helped us visualize our success.
4. Build Your Knowledge Base
In your business, you learn there are things you know and things you don’t know. When you encounter something that goes beyond your joint areas of expertise, you either have to quickly acquire the knowledge you need or get outside support. If you always have a thirst for knowledge, seek out answers, and view co-owning a business as a learning experience, you will be more likely to succeed.
5. Maintain Your Perspective
Fully expect that your business will have its ups and downs. That’s why it’s important for both of you to maintain your perspective and keep yourselves grounded. You want the business you operate as a team to enhance rather than detract from your personal lives. It should fulfill a personal dream both of you have and take your relationship to a new dimension. Running a business will be challenging and sometimes seem overwhelming, but maintaining your perspective will help it be fun and rewarding.
For more tips, read the book Let’s Make Money, Honey: The Couple’s Guide to Starting a Service Business by Barry Silverstein and his wife, Sharon Wood (GuideWords Publishing, 2015). It's available in print and eBook formats. To get the paperback at the special discounted price of $10.95 (a $6 savings), go to www.createspace.com/5616668 and enter the code: GKYC7AGA.