Marriage can be a pressure cooker of challenges. Toss in the added strain of running a business together, and the emotional boil can prove overwhelming.
But many couples in their 50s and 60s manage to combine marriage and entrepreneurship, albeit with occasional ups and downs. There are currently more than one million husbands and wives, known as “co-preneurs,” who co-own businesses, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
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“Sometimes we're really stressed, sometimes it's a lot of fun, sometimes we're beyond exhausted,” says Susan Devitt, 56. She and her husband, Tom Gallo, 52, are the co-owners of GalloLea Pizza Kits, an organic food company in Asheville, N.C.
“If Tom was working on another business 80 hours a week and I never saw him, I wouldn't accept that as OK for our relationship," Devitt says. "But because we’re in this together, we're sharing the fun and the pain of building a business.”
The Appeal of Working Together
The idea of working with a spouse — perhaps someone you’ve been married to for decades — can be intriguing. You know each other’s strengths and foibles, for instance, and can probably finish each other’s sentences.
But entrepreneurship experts say that you two should think and plan carefully before hanging out a co-shingle — it’s essential if both your business and marriage are to prosper.
As Bonnie Goldstein wrote in the Next Avenue article "Survival Guide for Couples Who Are Always Together," when couples go from spending just a few hours with each other to working side-by-side nearly the entire day, “they must improvise a fresh script.”
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