Imagine that you just got married — or have been married for some time — and you want to start a small business. You share the news with your spouse, who gets excited about this endeavor with you. They’re so happy that they offer to give you money to put towards the new company. But, you’re hesitant to say “I do” to their offer.
Is it a good or bad idea to give your spouse investment funds for their small business? Studies have shown that money is the number one cause of stress in relationships. Constant arguments about money can even be a predictor of divorce for married couples. If it’s just the two of you, and the small business makes three, should you accept their offer? Let’s take a look at the best responses for this situation.
“Thank you. Would you like to review my business plan with me?”
Your spouse isn’t offering to give you an extra $20 for a Target run. Whatever investment money they offer to provide is likely to be a substantially large amount. As such, it’s important that they clearly understand where the finances are heading. If they haven’t seen it already, now is the time to share your business plan.
A thoroughly drafted business plan will evaluate the feasibility of the company as objectively and critically as possible. These plans serve as an in-depth look into every aspect of your business. It covers the idea behind the company, what you’re offering, what makes said offering unique and distinctive, where you’re at in the development stages, and your long-term goals and strategy.
There is also a section dedicated to financial projections. This covers the cash flow of the business and projected profits and losses. Additional documents include the sales forecast, expenses budget, balance sheet for assets and liabilities, and a break-even analysis.
Don’t have a business plan drafted yet? You’re not in a position where you can confidently accept this kind of capital from your spouse or anyone else.
“Thank you. Can we meet with a financial advisor first?”
It’s not enough to review your business plan together and immediately transfer funds. Good intentions aside, it’s possible that there may be other financial issues under the surface. What if one spouse is still paying off a student loan? What if you’re planning to buy a house, have children, or retire?
There’s also the question of the investment itself. Is this investment a one-time transaction? What happens if your business needs more funding or flounders? Is your spouse now considered to be an investor in the business? Are they eligible to receive a stake in the company, too?
For the answers to all these questions and more, it’s key that you both meet with a financial advisor or accountant to determine next steps. A financial planner can help you determine your financial priorities, with or without the business, answer questions you may about whether or not you should incorporate for tax savings, and strategize what you should do next if you’re paying off existing debt.
“Thank you. I have given this a lot of thought, and plan to work with another funding source.”
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, it may be best to work with a venture capitalist or look into grants for funding. You might already have this planned in a traditional business plan with your financing request. This request outlines the amount of money you’re seeking from an investor for the business. Details are included about the manner in which the money will be spent, along with strategic financial situational plans should the business ever receive an acquisition offer.
You’ll notice that all of my subheaders started with “thank you.” When a spouse offers to invest in your business, their actions are coming from a place of love. However, you should never dismiss what they offered to give you. Whether you do or don’t decide to accept their offer, thank your spouse for standing beside you and your dreams.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.
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