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Perfect Pairs

Could you start a business with your spouse? How three couples make it work.

Every morning, millions of couples get up together, have their morning coffee together??? and go to work together. Could you and your spouse do it, too, or would you drive each other nuts?

While entrepreneurial couples' motives are as individual as their relationships, one thing all successful couples need is a firm foundation. Not every couple can work together, cautions Azriela Jaffe, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, business coach, speaker and author of Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business: a Planning Guide for Couples (HarperBusiness, $13, 800-236-7323). "A lot of people can't imagine working with their spouse all day long and still being in love at the end of the day," says Jaffe. "You have to love spending time together. Some couples thrive on being in each other's company."

Above and beyond that, Jaffe continues, "[Successful entrepreneurial] couples know how to resolve conflicts around power and decision-making. They've worked out these issues in their marriages [before they've begun businesses]."

For Susan and Jerry Hatchett, success as business partners followed naturally from success in marriage. Although Susan, 36, had assisted her husband ever since he bought his first pawn shop in 1981, she didn't join him as a full-time partner until he opened his most recent store, Jerry's Trading Post and Pawn Shop, in 1995. The Hatchetts also operate a homebased business through which they market Jerry's invention, the EasyBraid French braid maker.

"To get along well in business, you have to get along well personally first," says Jerry, 38. "Bumps exist in every marriage, but they need to be worked out at home, not in the business."

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This article was originally published in the November 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Perfect Pairs.

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