We have a good niche business in very upscale residential, and we have downsized from around 8-10 employees to 3-4 employees (added more equipment to make up for people). Our shop is 25,000 ft and we have plenty of room. Our business is out of debt - just lease on shop space that is very reasonable, and normal overhead, as equipment is paid for. We have seen the slowdown over the last 3 years, but we have been gaining in our high end jobs that are much more profitable, and with less people we can focus on jobs and turn down things we don't see as profitable.
My wife was a school teacher and just got laid off. Not sure if or when she can return to work. We are in Ohio and every school around has cut, so there's not much hiring. She has always helped in the office part time, very minimal, but knows what is going on. She is now helping full time, and it has helped out a lot, especially since we have cut people. Our dilemma is, should we have her keep working full time for us, or try to find another teaching job? With the cuts to benefits and pay, teaching is not what it was. I feel that with her help in the business, we could do much better.
Has anyone done something similar? How did it work out? It's nice to have her work outside the business so all our eggs are not in one basket, but I also feel that I can do much better with her help. She also likes managing the office and is very willing to get more education to excel at it and grow.
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor K:
If you pay yourself a consistent paycheck and your reserves can guarantee that your wife will also get a check, and she wants to do it, I say go for it. If, however, you do not pay yourself consistently, I've seen spouses turned into payees of last resort (i.e. - when we have the money). This can cause all sorts of problems.
I don't see anything wrong with working this in tandem. Have her work with you for a paycheck, get her the extra training you talked about, while she continues to look for a replacement job. If she never finds one, you now have her trained and up and running. If she does, you still have someone trained, but as a part-timer or backup.
Just plan this one out to the -enth degree.
Working together, day in and day out, dealing with employees, vendors, customers, collecting money, paying bills, buying materials, negotiating jobs, bidding, designing and so forth is a recipe for relationship disaster. Your wife needs to get a job, have her own friends and coworkers. Itís doubtful that you both will be able to exercise the discipline needed to leave work at the office. We are emotional creatures, not logical ones. Your personal life will become one with your business and your marriage will become a blurred working relationship that can very well end in failure.
No matter how good she is Ė and believe me, I know there isnít a better person to watch over your business than your trusted spouseÖ Donít make the mistake!
According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%
Iím certain that if there was a study of marriages where husband and wife worked together, the divorce rate would be outrageously high. Iím sure there are exceptions to this, as there is with just about everything. If you have a great relationship, donít risk it.
Working with my wife in our own business for over 25 years has been the best and also the worst thing I have ever done. I guess you could say that about marriage in general. It all boils down to how you go about it and what you expect in return. The end result is I have a marriage that has been tried and tested, repeatedly, and my marriage is far stronger and better than it could have been otherwise.
If you are the type of person who would be threatened by your wife having good advice against some of your decisions, or if you will be made to feel insecure when she is right and you are wrong, don't do it. However, if you will welcome the possibility that she can help you make better decisions, that she may see things you don't, and that regardless of her position, she will have a voice and opinions and you will need to listen to them, then do it. I guess I am saying that whether she is your partner or just an employee, she will need to discuss things, even after hours, with you about what she sees and believes is going on and you will need to listen. What you do with what she says is a whole other topic.
As to whether or not working together will destroy your marriage, I believe it can only speed up what would happen anyway. It is like parents who become empty nesters. All of a sudden they see more of each other and realize they don't really love each other anymore. Working together can do this too, but it isn't the working together that kills the marriage, it just exposes the flaws.
Over the last three days since Monday, my wife and I have been constantly side by side from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm working. And then we still go home together. But we always know that if one of us needs a break, we can honor that. No coincidence, today is my 32nd anniversary. We will not be working together today - my wife has sort of taken the day off.
So make sure you both know what the expectations are going to be, and go for it. But I think you may also want to consider and discuss an exit strategy so nobody ever feels pressured and always understands this is a voluntary move.