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  • Partnering with Your Spouse

    Flowers and Profits®

    A couple going into business together — when it works, it works beautifully. But when it fails — it can get ugly.

    Before you "partner up," insure greater success by considering some basic guidelines. By putting everything in writing, you will have something concrete to look at in times of disagreement or discourse. Everyone's life goes through changes, so you should be prepared to adjust your partnership as needed.

    First, write down everything you can think of that might come up and would require you and your spouse to reach a final decision. Then list ways to achieve an agreement should you be unable to reach one on your own. You might name a trusted third party — a lawyer or accountant — to step in and assist you, or you might consider hiring a mediator to listen to your dilemma and help you find a solution.

    Second, list what kind of initial commitment, both financially and personally, you both intend to give to the new venture. What will be the initial money outlay and how much will each of you commit to keep it going? Also, what kind of hours will you agree to work? Who will handle childcare situations, family crises and who will run the personal errands during the day?

    Third, make a plan as to how you will dissolve your business partnership should the need arise. It's better to work through this now when it seems a remote possibility than to try to figure it out in the heat of a breakup. One partner may want to pull out because of time constraints or different priorities, and the other will be left to run the shop. An equitable parting of the ways should be ironed out before that occurs.

    Fourth is the hardest to confront: plan for the event of a partner's death. It's an unpleasant task, but crucial for peace of mind.

    Fifth, before you sign any agreement to share a business, analyze your relationship and bear in mind that any problems you're having will be amplified when you become business partners. The added demands on each of you will test your endurance and your commitment to each other. Address any concerns you might have before you begin to divide your family and business responsibilities.

    Some states require a partnership to file its agreement, so check with your state's Commissioner of Labor and your attorney.


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