Valentine's Day is a perfect excuse for anyone to link his area of expertise to love and marriage. So today, I am writing to tell you why getting married will help you become a successful entrepreneur.
I have not developed any new insights about love, relationships or marriage. (My wife will readily attest to that.) I'm still just an entrepreneurship professor writing about how to be successful in running a small business. But in honor of Valentine's Day, I looked at what the entrepreneurship literature says about marriage. The message: Getting married is a good idea if you're an entrepreneur or want to run your own business. While there are certainly psychological reasons why being married can help entrepreneurs, I'm going to stick to the economic ones.
Being married will make it easier for you to start a business because you will have access to a spouse's money. Most new businesses can't raise much capital from external sources and have to rely on the founder's typically insufficient savings account. Research shows that such liquidity constraints block some people from pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. But being able to tap a spouse's savings helps overcome this obstacle.
If a spouse has a job, people also are more willing to start a business and accept the inherent risks. If the business fails, there's always the spouse's paycheck to fall back on. Similarly, a spouse's health insurance can be very beneficial. Because most people have to give up employer coverage to start their own companies, marriage can fill the insurance gap and thus encourage entrepreneurship, as Rob Fairlie, professor of economics at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and colleagues found in their research.
Beyond encouraging people to start businesses, marriage also helps them succeed. Undercapitalization is a major reason small businesses don't perform well and fail. But married couples can invest more in their companies because they usually have access to more capital than singles. Higher levels of equity capital, in turn, make it easier to satisfy banks' debt-to-equity ratio requirements and get loans.
Being wed also gives an entrepreneur access to labor and advice, usually for much less than the market rate. Who other than a spouse is going to work for free? In addition, spouses are often motivated to work harder than employees because they want to maximize the profits of the business they have a direct stake in.
So today I am taking advantage of my one chance to play "Dear Abby" and offer romantic advice. If you're an entrepreneur or think you might want to become one, go out, buy a ring, get down on one knee and propose to the one you love. It will help you achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Scott Shane is the A. Malachi Mixon III professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University. His books include Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live by (Yale University Press, 2008) and Finding Fertile Ground: Identifying Extraordinary Opportunities for New Businesses (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005).