Maria Barak, Managing Partner of a boutique consulting firm, Altshuler & Barak, LLP, shares her experience of starting a business with her spouse.
I built my career at Deloitte’s assurance practice where I served a variety of clients ranging from some of the biggest corporations and SEC filers in the Bay Area to local start-ups in alternative energy and consumer business fields. After 11 years, I left Deloitte as a Senior Manager to start my own boutique accounting consulting firm with my husband and business partner, Vadim.
Starting a business partnership with a spouse can be a challenge, but there are a few things that I learned through my own experience that are critical to have in order to maintain balance between professional and personal relationship.
1. Try to keep things separate.
It is hard to keep your personal life (especially problems) out of business but it’s a must. The same goes the opposite way. I found setting up a specific time to talk about each side to be helpful. It’s much easier said than done, but it can be achieved with practice as long as you add a lot of patience and respect to the mix.
2. Set clear business goals.
You need to sit down and discuss what your vision of the business is and come to an agreement from the very beginning. If you’ve been married for a while, you may think you know everything about each other and take many things for granted. Because of that, it’s best if those goals are laid out on paper and are revisited periodically by the two partners.
3. Have recurring status meetings.
It may seem silly to have business status meetings with your spouse, but it’s the time to check in with each other and make sure that both of you are working towards the common goal, as well as express any concerns or frustrations you may have. Open communication is the key to success here.
4. Understand your role and responsibilities.
Like in any other workplace, you need to understand your role and responsibilities. For our consultancy business, the split came naturally as myself and my spouse specialize in different aspects of the business, assurance and tax, respectively, but the rest of the work is divided based on personal traits and time availability.