Business Coach: Surviving Your Business, Surviving Marriage

(Originally published on August 14,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)


Can Husbands and Wives Run a Successful Business?


By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

Most couples dream of having a business together. Being in love, and believing in “for richer, and for poorer,” it sure seems a good decision for couples to be working together in the same business. Unfortunately, this is not always true.

A husband and wife together in the same business can bring chaos in the workplace. It is almost always inevitable to bring personal problems in the company, and vice-versa. In fact, I know some employers who would not even employ couples in their company.

Their personal problems become the issues of their bosses.

After getting married, my wife and I immediately started a business. It was not easy the first time because we brought work home. We debated on work-related issues over breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. Yes, we went to coffee shops during weekends, but still we talked about business while sipping coffee. It was a nightmare!

Also, at first, we decided to bring home just some paperwork. But later on we brought almost half our jobs home so we could work on it overtime. Our bedroom consisted of two worktables, computers, printers, telephone lines, broadband Internet connection, and tons of paper.

Working together, we faced a lot of struggles. It was difficult because you cannot terminate your spouse when he or she doesn’t meet your expectations!

Employees’ Problem, too

It was also difficult with our employees, as they have to decide between “He Says, She Says”, or face the consequences. A few Machiavellian employees sometimes played us against each other to their advantage.

I thought that always being together would allow us to share more good times, but that was far from what happened. Since both of us had key roles in the company, it was virtually impossible to take vacations without worrying.

It is not as easy as it looks, but we survived. Let me share how we did it:

• Know your strengths. This is so you can divide your work, and prevent tasks from overlapping. This also brings a clear understanding on who’s in charge of what. Designate positions to minimize confusion and clarify who is responsible for a task.

• Make it clear who makes the final decision. Decide on who is “The Real Boss.” Despite all the talk about equality, there comes a time when a major decision must be made.  When there is a tie, then one of you must have the authority to make the final decision.

• Respect each other. Even if you have opposing views, speak calmly and listen well. When you disagree, refrain from attacking each other on a personal level. On the other hand, you can also use this opportunity—as my wife and I did—to learn not to be sensitive to criticism.

• Separate personal from business finances. Be clear about money matters. Even if you are a co-owner of the business, discuss expenses with your spouse. Refrain from just getting money from the cash register, or issuing checks without the knowledge of your partner. Separate your business from your personal bank account.

• Be honest about your limitations. If you believe you are having difficulty with your responsibilities, admit it to your partner. Explain that your qualifications do not jive with your current work situations, if that is the case.

• Have quality time for each other. Do things apart from work. Allot time together for hobbies, and don’t forget about family. Just because you are always together doesn’t mean that you no longer need to have time for things other than business.

• Celebrate successes. Give importance to each other’s contribution by celebrating achievements. Never take things for granted. Even if you are together 24/7, treat each other for every milestone in your business.

My final piece of advice: if you don’t have a strong relationship with your spouse, don’t go into business together, especially if both of you have dominant personalities. It is not simple, and will just weigh down the marriage if you are already prone to arguing with each other. But if you love and treat each other with respect, I’m sure you’re both going to make it just fine. Good luck!


Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of  BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small- or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit or e-mail


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Posted on September 15, 2011, in Business Agenda Classifieds Columns, BusinessCoach and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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