Starting a business as a couple is more common than you may think. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 Annual Business Survey, 297,778 employer firms or businesses were jointly owned and operated by spouses, representing just over 10 percent of all U.S. for-profit businesses in 2021.

While there are many ways to start a business as a couple, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of integrating your personal and professional lives before moving forward. If the pros outweigh the cons, there are several steps you’ll want to follow to ensure your new business is successful and your partnership remains strong.

Pros of starting a business as a couple

Starting a business with someone you already trust is appealing to many entrepreneurs. Here are the advantages of starting a business with your partner.

Shared goals

Starting a business as a couple allows you to build on personal and professional goals. As a couple, you may desire to work from home, develop a new product, become your own boss or generate more income. By starting a business together, you can collaborate with your partner on these goals instead of working towards them individually.

Build trust and a stronger relationship

While running a business is certainly challenging, it can help you build a stronger foundation as a couple. Together, you can overcome obstacles in your business, turning them into opportunities for growth and deeper emotional support.

Ability to develop strengths

Starting a business as a couple may give you an advantage compared to working with an investor or business partner. You likely know your partner better than an investor or traditional business partner, so it may be easier to identify where you each succeed and divide responsibilities. You may also be more willing to try new things and develop strengths without feeling the pressure to succeed immediately.

Cons of starting a business as a couple

While there are plenty of benefits to starting a business as a couple, there are cons. Some couples see their relationship suffer after adding the stress of a new business into the mix.

Potential to damage business and relationship

Having a business as a couple can potentially damage both the business and your relationship. Startups and new businesses can be difficult to fund and get off the ground.

One of the largest surveys on marriage by the National Fatherhood Initiative found that 28 percent of respondents felt financial problems or economic hardships were major reasons their marriage failed. A 2013 study published in Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice found that 50 percent of divorced couples agreed financial problems had contributed to the breakup. The combination of starting a business and the additional financial strain could cause further issues if you aren’t prepared for the challenges ahead.

Could change the relationship dynamic

Apart from financial strain, if you’re used to working independently or having dedicated time apart, working and living together can change the dynamics of a relationship. Things that may not have been an issue in your personal relationship could be problematic in your business relationship. Responsibilities and power dynamics may also shift when you go into business together. If one partner thinks the other is not pulling their weight, finding a healthy balance and overcoming the differences can be difficult.

Running a successful business with your spouse

Before running a business with your spouse, consider the following tips. Having a plan in place for avoiding common pitfalls can help you succeed in your business and ensure your relationship remains strong.


Open communication, particularly about finances, is key. A recent Bankrate survey of U.S. adults who are married or living with their partner found that 42 percent of respondents have kept a financial secret from their partner. The top reason for keeping such a secret is a need for financial privacy or a desire to control their own finances.

But, when you’re running a business as a couple, financial privacy isn’t possible. If there are issues with finances or you’re seeking a small business loan, it needs to be discussed. Without open and honest communication, you’ll likely encounter issues keeping your business up and running.

Bankrate insight

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 Annual Business Survey found that with businesses jointly owned and equally operated by spouses:

  • 19% were 3 years and under
  • Approximately 21% were 4 to 10 years old
  • Nearly 11% were 11 to 15 years old
  • 10% were over 16 years old

Maintain work/life balance

Maintaining an intentional balance between work objectives and personal life could make or break a successful business as a couple. Running a business with your spouse means you may need to keep firm daily agendas and carve out time together outside of the business. While this can be difficult when you’re in startup mode, it could save your relationship. If you can’t draw clear boundaries between your personal life and the business, the added stress could harm your partnership.

Have a plan for conflict resolution

If you don’t have a healthy framework for conflict resolution, you may experience an increase in arguments when you’re running a business together. Outlets like couples therapy or a mediator could help you figure out how to plan for dealing with disagreements that crop up — whether they’re related to the business or personal. Research in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found that 70 percent of couples who receive marriage counseling report a positive impact on their relationship.

Have an emergency fund

Money is a challenge for most couples, and startup business costs often come from personal funds initially. The 2022 Small Business Credit Survey by the Federal Reserve Banks found that 83 percent of small businesses aged 0 to 5 years used the owner’s personal savings or money from family and friends. According to Bankrate’s annual emergency savings report, 60 percent of Americans feel they are behind in emergency savings, and only 19 percent of households have increased their savings since the start of the year.

As most American households are currently under financial stress, building a business emergency fund is an easy way to separate your business and personal funds. Even if you can’t contribute a significant amount immediately, any amount can help if your business faces unexpected expenses without placing additional stress on your personal finances.

Bottom line

Starting a business as a couple can help you work towards shared goals and build a stronger partnership. But it can also cause financial stress and power struggles within your personal relationship. Weighing the pros and cons of starting a business as a couple can save you from jumping in too soon and prepare you for the challenges you may face.

Frequently asked questions

  • Financial hardships and secrets are common reasons for divorce and separations, making it risky to start a business as a couple. However, starting a business allows couples to meet shared professional goals and create something together. You’ll want to take a critical look at your relationship and compare the pros and cons before starting a business as a couple.
  • Couples can start nearly any type of business together, but some industries are growing more quickly than others. As of 2023, industries like retail and hospitality are growing.
  • Married couples can start a business as a qualified joint venture, which treats them as one business owner. Couples may also want to consider filing as a proprietorship or an LLC. The LLC structure provides liability protection and may offer married couples tax benefits.