Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

My Love and My Business-Expectation and Reality of Couples Working Together in a New Venture Creation: The Entrepreneurs' Perception

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

My Love and My Business-Expectation and Reality of Couples Working Together in a New Venture Creation: The Entrepreneurs' Perception

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Starting and managing a family business presents challenges and risks for entrepreneurs and their spouses according to previous studies. How to balance family life and business life becomes a critical issue to develop a healthy dual working relationship. This is a report of a national survey of retail and service small businesses. Entrepreneurs revealed their perceptions regarding the impact of a new venture creation on business and family relationships. The number of full-time employees and years in the businesses were most significantly related to spouses' decisions to work in the business, while other demographic information did not seem to influence spousal involvement. Interestingly those spouses who worked in the business were also more likely to have other jobs. Married entrepreneurs showed very consistent assessments on their expectations and reality associated with new venture creation related to financial situation, family relationship, and business development, with or without spouses working in the businesses. While some entrepreneurs did not have enough time for themselves and for their family, few believed that a dual working relationship actually enhanced their marriage. Although some entrepreneurs agreed that new venture creation had impact on the family relationship, the majority of them believed that they would start again and that their family would support them if they decided to start the business again.

INTRODUCTION

Shannon and Paul Entin, wife and husband proprietors of FitnessLink Inc, a health and fitness Internet site, have found that it is not easy to work with a spouse (Schatz, 2000). They have difficulties communicating effectively when running the business together, and it is much easier to argue with a spouse than it is a neutral business partner. What Shannon and Paul have experienced is not uncommon among entrepreneurs whose spouse is involved in the business. The statistics compiled by the Small Business Administration show a significant increase in the number of family business establishments in the United States over the past ten years. Among all the family businesses, entrepreneurs face different challenges in decision-making process with or without spouse involved in the businesses. Numerous studies and observations have discovered unique characteristics of entrepreneurs, such as willingness to take risks, certain visions for their future, desire to be their own boss, creativity and motivation, and optimism and enthusiasm about starting the businesses. If the entrepreneurs work alone, they put up their money and operate their own businesses. They enjoy the success and struggle in running the business based upon personal preference, independence, and self-control. However, the situation is somewhat different when a spouse is also working in the business. The meaning of the business changes from "MY business" to "OUR business". Much of the literature reviewed, discussed in a later section, explored the advantages and disadvantages of couples working in the business together. Some have argued that the marriage intimacy interfered with professional development, while others supported the dual working relationship that might enhance personal growth.

Several researchers have examined the characteristics of the entrepreneurs, the changes in relationships among family business participants, the changes in the business given family involvement, and challenges confronting the couples when working in business together. Several case studies also present examples of problems for dual working relationship in family business and possible approaches to prevent family conflicts. However, there is limited information or research to discover the mystery related to new venture creation with or without the spousal involvement. It is not clear how dual working relationships impact entrepreneurs' perceptions associated with business start-ups. One would wonder how expectation and reality interact in dual working relationships before and after starting the new venture. …

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