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For Better or for Worse

Starting a business with your better half isn't like buying a couch together. Before you hang your shingle, make sure you've both got what it takes.

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This story appears in the June 2001 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

She shouts out the answers to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?; he changes the channel to the World's Strongest Man competition. She wants an SUV; he bought himself a truck. She's wrapped in terrycloth before her morning cup of coffee; he goes jogging at 5 a.m. Her politics stink; he leaves the toilet seat up. Ever wish you could fire your spouse?

Well, you can, if you go into business together. Of course, it's probably not a good idea to start a joint venture together if you can't even reconcile things like who takes the trash out on Wednesday mornings. But if you and your significant other have a strong relationship, you might be able to make it work at the office, too. "In our case, the relationship has benefited from the business," says Robert Cota, 43, co-founder of Spykiss.com Inc., a Los Angeles-based developer of a peer-to-peer technology for the entertainment industry. "The relationship and the business have evolved in a parallel line. Both of us are creative, and we have the same goals. That's why we're together as a couple and why we went into business together."

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