Friday 21 June 2019 6:07 am

Love Island lessons for couple-preneurs

Emma Long is commercial director of BizSpace

Love Island is back on our screens. And while much of the population might be obsessed with watching swimwear-clad individuals find love, the reality show really revolves around the financial rewards of coupling up.

On top of the cash prize, last year’s winners, Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, are estimated to have made a total of £1m in the six months after the show ended. But their split last December saw the end of a lucrative relationship, with experts predicting that the breakup would spell the loss of £1m in couple deals.

And it is not only on ITV2 that, for better or for worse, couples are putting relationships at the heart of their working life.

Across our business centres up and down the UK, swathes of husband-and-wife teams are setting up new businesses in pursuit of a better lifestyle. A study by accounting software provider FreeAgent estimated that 1.4m couple-run firms exist in the UK.

For many of these couple-preneurs, working with a partner is the fulfilment of a dream to spend more time together. But going into business with a loved one is not something to be undertaken lightly.

While you may enjoy someone’s company outside the office, consider whether you really know what they would be like in a working environment. You love your partner – but would you like them as a colleague?

Also consider the consequences if things do not go to plan.

As any Love Island fan knows, the key to success is not to put all your eggs in one basket: with both of you financially reliant on the business, and each other, feelings of blame and resentment can easily grow during hard times, with little room to escape. If the business fails, will your relationship survive?

Consider what your aims are from the business and try to take an honest look at your relationship.

Formally interviewing your partner may be a step too far, but having a conversation about motivations, goals and approaches might prove enlightening, and help to iron out disagreements before they arise.

Try to step back from your relationship and ask whether you and your partner truly work well together and are genuinely the right people for the roles you plan to take on.

An inability to cook a meal together without considering using the breadknife as a weapon should be a warning sign. The course of true love – and business – never did run smooth.

It’s also important to have clear roles and a succession plan in place in case the business succeeds, but the relationship fails.

In some respects, however, entering into a business venture with a partner makes complete sense. After all, who better to start a business with than someone you trust implicitly, understand more than anyone else, and whose strengths and weaknesses you acknowledge completely?

Your innate knowledge of your business partner, and your ability to be honest with one another, might help to avoid problems that many startups often face.

With more and more people looking to work flexibly while they raise children or pursue a better work-life balance, working with a partner can offer ultimate flexibility.

So with some boundaries in place in terms of ensuring that work does not take over family life, or vice versa, running a business with a spouse can be an attractive lifestyle choice.

As well as being an opportunity for 20-somethings to shamelessly self-promote, Love Island claims to put relationships to the test to ensure  that they have what it takes to make it in the outside world. Just make sure that your relationship is robust enough to survive the even greater challenge of going into business together.

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