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Building a Business Together: The Power of Partnership in Entrepreneurship

Starting a business with your spouse is not just a joint venture—it's a unique synthesis of personal and professional lives that can lead to extraordinary success or challenging complications. For many entrepreneurial couples like myself and my wife, Natalie, who have been together since high school, it’s a journey that combines love, passion, and business acumen into one formidable enterprise.

Our Journey as a Couple in Business

Our entrepreneurial journey began shortly after high school when we founded Cody Window Cleaning. This was just the start, as we went on to be part of building over 20 companies. Our partnership thrives on complementary skills: I am the dreamer, constantly envisioning new possibilities and avenues for growth, while Natalie grounds these visions with realism and unwavering support.

The Importance of Alignment

One critical lesson we learned, especially when we began franchising our business, is the indispensable value of spousal alignment. Our observations revealed a clear pattern: franchises thrived when both spouses were aligned and supportive. Conversely, misalignment often led to struggle and failure. It's crucial to recognize that building a business can be as taxing personally as it is professionally. Having to contend with discord at home can exacerbate the already considerable challenges of entrepreneurship.

To gauge potential franchisees' alignment, we adopted a simple yet effective method: taking them out for dinner. This informal setting helped us sense whether both partners were truly supportive of the venture—a critical predictor of future success.

Statistics and Broader Insights

Research supports our observations. According to a recent study, businesses started by couples have a unique set of advantages and challenges. Approximately 53% of startup founders believe that working with a spouse has increased the emotional stakes of the business, making alignment and mutual support even more crucial. Moreover, businesses founded by couples tend to have a 6% higher survival rate over a 10-year period compared to other startups, highlighting the potential stability and resilience provided by such partnerships.

Success Stories

Consider the example of Eventbrite, founded by Julia and Kevin Hartz alongside Renaud Visage. This powerhouse couple managed to balance their personal and professional lives effectively, leading their company to immense success, including a public listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Another notable example is Modcloth, founded by Susan and Eric Koger right out of college. Their shared vision and complementary skills helped them grow Modcloth into a hugely popular retail brand, eventually selling to Walmart.

Starting and running a business with your spouse is not without its trials. It requires a deep level of mutual understanding, respect, and most importantly, alignment of goals and values. The successes of couples in business together showcase the unique strengths brought about by true partnership, but they also underscore the necessity of maintaining a strong, unified personal foundation from which to grow.

For couples considering this path, remember: the key to success lies not just in great business ideas, but in the strength of the relationship that supports those ideas. As you navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship, take time to ensure your personal alignment, as it is just as crucial as your business strategy.


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