Even couples with strong marriages need autonomy for a business to succeed--but not too much autonomy. "It's easy for a husband and wife to get into competition with each other," John Christensen says. "For us, Ann's word is law when it comes to sales and marketing, although I can put in my two cents' worth. When it comes to [designing and manufacturing the product], she gives her input, but, essentially, I decide how that's going to work. However, neither one of us operates so autonomously that we don't listen to each other."
The Hatchetts' system for defining duties came about naturally. "We complement one another," explains Susan. "The tasks he doesn't care for happen to be the things I like to do."
Many couples find a division of labor arises naturally. But even if this isn't the case for you, it's important to agree on which tasks each of you will handle and how far your authority extends.