Balancing Act

Mixing marriage with home-based business.

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By Cynthia E. Griffin

Tips for mixing marriage and a homebased business.

Stephen Jaffe remembers exactly when it happened.

In 1993, the newly married accountant quit his job to run an expense-reduction business from his Framingham, Massachusetts, home. While he was building the business, his wife, Azriela, worked to support the family. One year later, things weren't working out exactly as planned.

The Jaffes' experiences have helped them develop sound advice for married homebased business owners.

Create a budget. "It's important to put together a budget [for both personal and business expenses], then recast it for the next three months or even one year,' says Stephen. "Make sure your spouse understands the financial side of the business, even if he or she won't be a part of it."

Set ground rules early for how much input your spouse will have in business decisions. "If the business is funded by joint funds, it's important to know to what extent I have input into the business,' says Azriela.

Communicate. Talking to family members about the business is another key ingredient. When projections are unrealistic and need to be revamped, sit down and do it together.

"You also have to be really good to your spouse--particularly if you're not making money," laughs Stephen. "Find out the little things [he or she] appreciates, and do them. Acknowledge his or her support, and note that there may be some hardships. This is marketing, probably to your most important client, and if you scrimp on it, you're not going to make it.'

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