Smart Strategies for Couples Who Run a Business Together

Starting an enterprise with a spouse requires balancing two partnerships, the marriage and the business. All that togetherness can be exhilarating and exhausting, with the financial stakes never higher. There are about 5 million family-owned business in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. In a 2019 Census Bureau survey with a roughly 50% response rate, 22% were jointly owned and operated by spouses, almost 8% jointly owned but mostly operated by the husband, and 3% jointly owned but mostly operated by the wife.


Anecdotally, financial planners and wealth advisers say they are seeing more couples choosing to work together, something the pandemic may have spurred. "People have spent a lot of time thinking about what they want to do. They're looking for an escape from the old responsibilities of putting on a suit or going on an airplane," says Brian Parker, co-founder and managing director of EP Wealth Advisors in Torrance, Calif. In addition, he says, the pandemic heightened everyone's awareness that life is short.


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