Married to the Company: When Your Business Partner Is Your Spouse

In retrospect, Feltin admits it would have been wise for her and McComb to have discussed the direction each envisioned for their business from the get-go. Ditto for their definition of success and the role each would play in getting the company there.

Experts agree that hashing out who owns, decides and does what in a business partnership is a must.

"I don't care if you're married. I don't care if you're not. Every partnership needs something in writing," Gerber said. Although it may seem like overkill for co-founding spouses to lawyer up and create a business contract, it's your smartest move, said New York business attorney Nina Kaufman, who runs the popular website Ask the Business Lawyer.

"There's an extra layer of mess any time you're going into a business relationship with a family member or friend," Kaufman said. "You want to be even more formal because of your personal relationship."

Better to take the time to hammer out the details of your entrepreneurial relationship while you're still basking in the glow of your winning business idea, Kaufman said. That way, she added, you avoid making the all-too-common mistake of assuming you're on the same professional page as your sweetie without having discussed the finer details first. And if the martial muck should hit the proverbial fan, you—and your business assets—will be better protected.

As for Feltin and McComb, their marriage weathered the entrepreneurial storm and the two attest to being happier than ever. With Feltin at its helm, Biznik has moved to a subscription membership model and will launch a new online product this spring. Although McComb remains a co-owner in the business and occasionally acts as a sounding board for Feltin's ideas, he's forged a new career as a documentary and commercial filmmaker.

"Now we have new things to talk about over dinner," Feltin said. "It's really revitalized our relationship."

Or as McComb put it: "For us, business and marriage do mix—just not the same business."

This work is the opinion of the columnist, and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer and former cubicle dweller. Her books include My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube. Follow her at @anti9to5guide.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...