The perils of running a family-owned business …

About half of all new businesses survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more. If you’re married to your work partner, then there’s a good chance that you can succeed …

When you are married to your work partner it’s not all black and white!

copyright: 4p business development

Today, there are more and more married couples in business together than ever before. Being married to your work partner, whilst still, a family business brings its own complications and areas that need to be managed carefully.


“One client often refers to me as their business coach AND a marriage guidance councellor!


I am really not sure about the last bit but do understand how during our regular meetings both areas tend to cross over. It probably can’t be helped when you’re married to your work partner.

Good planning is crucial to ensure all business goals are concurrent with life goals, and timelines are synchronised to run a successful profitable and sustainable business.

The Federation of Small Businesses have identified:

  • There was a record 5.7 million private sector businesses at the start of 2017.

  • Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses; at the start of 2017 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized (SMEs).

  • Total employment in SMEs was 16.1 million; 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.

  • The majority of population growth since 2000 has been due to non-employing businesses, which accounted for 89% of the overall increase.

  • Non-employing businesses accounted for 79% of the overall 197,000 increase in the last year.

It’s not uncommon to see couples decide to go into business together. The close relationship, shared goals, and unwavering support they have together often make entrepreneurship seem like a natural fit.

“However, the closeness of living and working together, and the lack of personal space and time bring many challenges!”

According to Forbes, here’s How To Tackle The Biggest Entrepreneurial Challenges when working with family and/or partners, and how to overcome those challenges for a successful personal and professional partnership.

  1. Discuss and establish operating norms

    Explore each other’s values, assumptions, strengths and needs. Document and agree to some clear guidelines that define how you will honour the other person’s needs, and clear up assumptions.

    Clarify how you will make decisions, and talk about guiding principles for your business and how that relates to the future you see for both your business and your relationship.

  2. Get your legal issues and business contracts in place

    It’s important to make sure that all legal and contractual measures are in place before any business partnership takes place, even in a marriage or intimate relationship. It allows the business to have a solid foundation independent of your personal relationship.

    No matter what part of the relationship may turn sour, your business interests are protected, and a plan is in place to move forward.

  3. Clearly define your roles and responsibilities

    The biggest challenge I’ve seen is the clear line between who is ultimately the boss. Someone needs to make the final call, and that needs to be determined in advance for different situations, otherwise, roadblocks become impassable.

    I find that clearly defining roles and responsibilities in the partnership, and respecting those, can be a huge step to having success.

  4. Set aside time for non-work activities

    Couplepreneurs often spend far more time together than average couples. To avoid relationship burnout, try not working in the same space. If that’s not possible, make sure your roles are clearly defined and separate so, your roles don’t collide, and you complement one another.

    Remember to make a designated date night on a regular basis where you don’t discuss work and enjoy a shared hobby or nice meal out.

  5. Plan for time away from work and each other

    Successful couplepreneurs separate their work and home life. They define clear boundaries around their personal time. They disconnect from business issues and business talk at the end of the workday. They invest in their relationship by planning fun activities. They also have lives apart from each other, spending time with their individual friends.

I have a vast amount of experience working with family-owned businesses and businesses in which the work partners are also life partners. I am versed in dealing with the unique challenges these businesses face.


“Would you like to know more?”


If you’re married to your work partner and would like to know more about how I can coach your family-owned business, call me on

01280 700405 or click here to ping me an email and let’s see how I can help you.

Until next time …




If you’re looking for a partner to help grow your business, visit to discover how 4P Business Development can help you!