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How to Get Your Spouse’s Buy In Before Starting a Business?

If you are married and are planning on starting a business on the side, your spouse can be your biggest ally or your biggest enemy. I know a ton of married folks who are itching to start a business but either couldn’t or wouldn’t because of one main reason: “I would in a heart beat BUT my wife wouldn’t let me”. I don’t mean to single out women, and this can definitely work the other way around as well.

Remember, when you are married, it is not only about YOU anymore, it is about YOU GUYS

Getting your spouse on the same side of the fence as you is a critical strategic move on your part. In fact, I don’t recommend you move forward unless and until you have your spouse’s buy in. If you don’t have your spouse’s approval, you will either end up divorced, or give your business very little chance to succeed from the get-go.

Although I am discussing this topic in the context of a spouse, it really applies to your broader family. Ask yourself who is most important to you in your life? Who do live with? Who will be affected when you spend your time outside work on your business rather than chit chatting and hanging out every night and over weekends? Whoever comes to mind, get their buy in!

Why is your spouse’s decision so important?

  • Time Factor – With full time jobs and busy lives even outside work today, leisure time is scarce to begin with. The last thing you want to do is spend all that time on your business while your family feels neglected. Trust me, this will also affect the quality of your work because of the guilt feeling you will have about this. You will not able to fully concentrate on your work. As you can imagine, having the full support and understanding of your family is very important to your success and personal life.
  • Money Factor – Whatever much or little, starting a business involves investment of capital. When you are married, financial decisions are typically made collectively. You are not going to buy a house without your spouse’s consent are you? Similarly, it is not advisable to start a business without your spouse’s approval either. Your spouse must be involved in this decision like any other family matter. Again, if you do not have their approval, I would advise against starting your business. Maybe you should give it some more time and try again?
  • Attention Factor – Even when you are spending time with your family, you just can’t help it at times when business related matters cross your mind. It can be a phone call, an email to send out, something to write down on your to do list, or anything really. When this happens, even if it is only in your mind, the distraction becomes apparent and your family will notice that. It can seem as though even when you are with them physically, you are mentally somewhere else.
  • Social Factor – Because your work consumes most of your life, you will be working most nights and weekends (at least during the start up stages) to establish and get your business going. This means no hanging out with the Murphys or attending the neighbor’s kid’s birthday party. It may also mean skipping church? I am not suggesting you do all these – but you will need to find time for your business somehow. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day, and you still need to factor in time to eat, sleep and breathe – or not.

Life will already be challenging as it is. Balancing your career and side business is not easy to begin with. And with all the challenges that come with that, the last thing you need is problems in your family. My wife’s cousin often says: “Wife happy, life happy” (she is Indian by the way). I kid you not – follow this motto and you will be a happy man. If you are a woman, then keep your husband just as happy.

How to get the buy in?

So now that you know why it is so important to get your family’s buy in before you start your side business, how do you actually go about getting it?

When you come home one day and you say “honey I am starting a part time business” and your spouse says “wow – great!” – then consider yourself the lucky one. But even so, it is important that you sit down with your spouse and have an in depth conversation about what it is that you are thinking about, what kind of commitment is involved (both time and money wise) and the rest that goes with it. If you don’t do this, you will run into one of the problematic factors discussed above.

For the not so lucky ones, the persuasion process takes a bit of time and work, but if approached with diligence and honesty, the go ahead signal will not take too long to come.

Convey to your spouse immediately the reason why you are contemplating starting a side business. Tell them you are doing it for a brighter future for them, your family. Give them the genuine reasons why you are itching to get ahead. Tell them that you love your family and want to establish a business that allows you to spend more time with them.

Your spouse can be a huge asset to your business, so don’t keep anything away from them. When they starts to realize the potential of the business, trust me they will get involved and help in whatever way they can. Be as honest and transparent as you can be. Just understand that it will take time before they fully understand and realize what you do. There may be so many things you want to convey to them but just cannot articulate because your mind is thinking way faster than you can explain.

Just like it took you time to build yourself up to this point, it will take them just as much, if not longer. Think about it, you didn’t wake up one morning and decided to start a business did you? It’s a process that unfolds over time. You can help expedite that process by sharing your plans in as plain English as possible.

On a personal note, I already had several things going on before I got married. But for the ventures that I started after marriage, clear communication always helped me get the buy in. I make it a point to sit down with my wife and explain to her what I am trying to do, and what I can accomplish by doing so. I discuss the time and resources it will take on our end, as well as the anticipated rewards to be gained.

I essentially walk her through their entire blueprint of the plan and my projected return from the endeavor. When you lay out the plan in simple terms and explain to your spouse the benefits your family can be entitled to with just some effort up front on your part, you will likely get the buy in much easier and also sooner.

Seeing is believing, so show her some proof of success if you have been successful in a similar initiative in the past. Alternatively, show her success stories and case studies online or in person if you know anyone. People love to talk about their success stories both online and off. These stories are told with a lot of pride, enthusiasm and hope – and I can assure you this will contribute in a positive way to your spouses psyche and ultimately their decision. And once your business gets rolling and revenues start to trickle in, always show your spouse the results of your hard work. Flash away a paycheck or two. This will keep adding fuel to the fire and keep them positive throughout.

Some specific actions that have helped me

Sometimes a spouse can play tough (even when they already know they can allow you to move forward). Maybe they do this to see if they can get you to bribe them.

Well, some tried and tested (with success) methods have been implemented by either me or folks I know personally. These work like a charm.

  • Promise your spouse a back or a foot rub every other weekend – trust me on this. If they don’t enjoy either, promise some other kind of a rub. People like being pampered. At the same time don’t over commit and promise it weekly. After all, you are giving ‘sum’ to ‘get sum’ (time for your business that is).
  • Promise them Brunch dates every other Sunday – girls love this kinda stuff. For guys, promise the steak outings once a month.
  • Even though it is expected that each spouse will continue to do what is expected out of them on a daily basis, go ahead and promise them anyway that you will continue to do all your household chores as expected on time and with good diligence. There is reverse psychology involved here. If you play your cards right, you might end up getting relieved of some of your tasks. I used to do dishes every night. But because I am working on my websites some evenings, my beautiful wife would go ahead and do them with the understanding that I am busy.
  • Promise them family time. Depending on your personal situation and the amount of leisure time you have to spend outside work, dedicate a portion of that to your family. Spend time together doing what you love doing and never break this promise. It is after all our family who we work so hard for.

Other people’s Monkeys

I forgot who said this first but I remember almost rolling on the ground the firs time I heard this. This is not directly related to how to get your spouse’s buy in, but if you are going to start a business, you need to learn to say NO to people.

“Monkey” in this case refers to requests other people make all the time such as “what are you doing this weekend, we are having a barbeque would you like to come?” or “can you pick me up a XYZ while you’re on your way to ABC?”. “Other people” refers to your friends, co workers, neighbors, friends of friends, etc.

People are often very nice by default and tend to say yes to most requests and invitations. However, when your time is so scarce, you cannot afford to do this. You must learn how to say no. Learn to .say no in a way that doesn’t sound rude. You just need to be a tad bit tactful. If you are working in corporate America I assume you have some level of tact.

Someday when your business flourishes, you will be able to say yes to all kinds of requests and attend all kinds of fun events. But until then, your work is cut out for you. Bottom line, learn how to put other people’s monkeys back on their backs and focus on your business.


Before you even get to your business challenges, getting approval from your family is your first priority. Without this approval, I would never recommend you move forward unless you are willing to risk the well being of your family and future business.

You have no one else to answer to but yourself if you are single. That is why single, working individuals are in the best position to start a side business. If you are single and are living with parents and have some household responsibilities, then you need your parent’s buy-in just as you would need your spouse’s if you were married.

Similarly, if you are married and have children, you need your entire family’s buy in and not just your spouse’s. If you are a single parent, you need buy in from whoever helps you raise your children. The bottom line is that you need buy in from whoever will be affected by your decision to start a part time business outside your 9 to 5 job.

At the end of the day, you cannot (or should not) compromise relationships. After all, it is our loved ones who we work so hard for. What good is the wealth and freedom we build for ourselves if we don’t have anyone to enjoy and share it with? So while I am a BIG advocate of starting it up on the side, I am a bigger advocate of doing it the right way and with your family’s full support behind you. Go get it done tiger (tigress)!

Juggling Successfully

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