Starting a business is a major life decision, so while you’re thinking about this bold new direction in your life, you may be tempted to make other life decisions—in other areas of your life. For example, if you’re in a serious relationship, you might consider proposing and getting married; after all, being married while building a business has some serious advantages.
However, there are also some disadvantages to getting married at this tumultuous stage of your life. Before going through with your decision, there are some things you’ll need to consider.
Top Considerations for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business While Married
These are some of the most important considerations you’ll need to make:
1. The state of the relationship. First, and perhaps most obviously, you should consider the state of your relationship. Is this someone you’ve known for many years, and currently live together with? Is it someone you’re on good terms with currently, and someone you trust and respect? Or is this someone you met rather recently? Or is this someone you’re currently fighting with? Think carefully about whether this is the right person to marry—and whether they’re right to marry in the present moment.
2. The stress. Though marriage and entrepreneurship are both exciting new ventures, they’re also incredibly stressful. Marriage is the seventh-highest ranking stressful event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress scale, and a major business readjustment is the fifteenth. Trying to do both at the same time may prove too much—even if you’re currently on stable mental and emotional ground.
3. Pre-nuptial agreements. If you marry before you start the business, it may be considered a joint asset. If you marry after you start the business, and eventually divorce, you may still be required to split ownership of the business (or defer some of its revenue to your partner). If you’re considering marriage, you should also consider a pre-nuptial agreement, which can proactively and cleanly settle the matter.
4. The long hours. You should know that running a business isn’t usually a 40-hour-a-week job. You’ll be forced to work long nights and weekends to make your company a success, and that means spending lots of time away from your spouse to be (and being tired for the time you do have together). That can be a serious detriment to a new marriage, depending on how much time you’re investing and how long that phase lasts.
5. Financial support. One of the biggest advantages of being married while starting a business is being able to rely on your spouse for some level of financial support. Before going through with the marriage, you should have a conversation about how that support might play out. For example, is your partner capable of supporting you both for a short period of time? How long can they support you? Are they even willing to support you?
6. Emotional support. As your business begins to grow, you’re going to need some additional emotional support from your partner. Is your partner willing to help bear some of that stress? Is this a compassionate person who’s going to sympathize with the stress of business ownership, or are they going to be focused on their own career dilemmas? Make sure your partner is willing and able to support you emotionally as your business develops.
7. Your partner’s feelings about the business. Finally, talk to your partner about your business plan. Do they think it’s a viable idea? Do they like the idea of you becoming an entrepreneur? Obviously, you can’t base your decision to start a business based solely on one person’s opinion, but if you plan on marrying them at the same time you start the business, they should probably be on board with it.
Coming to a Decision
This is a hard decision, but it’s not one you have to make immediately. If you find yourself debating the merits of marriage while starting a business too heavily, you should probably delay the decision. This may be a good opportunity to get married, but it certainly won’t be the last; and ultimately, you may find it better to marry during a period of less uncertainty and stress.