10/15/2014 09:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Start a Successful Business With a Family Member


We've all heard the same axiom time and time again... Never mix business and pleasure.

So what do you do when you decide you want to launch a startup with your spouse?

That's the question Randy and Angie Stocklin had to answer back in 2005 when they started One Click Ventures, an innovative e-commerce business that has gone on to set records andwin awards. As the newlywed couple launched their E-Commerce business, they were greeted with a chorus of conventional wisdom that starting a business with a family member never works.

How did Randy and Angie defy conventional wisdom and build such a successful business and marriage at the same time? As it turns out, the fundamental principles of success in both business and love tend to go hand-in-hand.

Here's Randy and Angie's advice for starting a business with a family member.

Fast forward nearly a decade and not only is One Click surviving, it's thriving. Randy and Angie just launched a new brand, felix + iris, during Fashion Week in New York City and are taking the eye wear industry by storm. Not only has their business grown, but so has their relationship. Rather than putting a strain on their marriage, working together has brought the couple closer than ever.

Here's how they did it:

Tip #1 - Find Complementary Skill Sets

Working with a family member can be tough, but it only gets tougher if they believe you're stepping on their territory. Make sure that you draw up boundaries and assign clear responsibilities to everyone involved. The less confusion there is about who is responsible for what, the more successful you'll be and the less stress you'll encounter.

If there's something that your partner is especially good at, get out of the way. Don't force your vision. Trust that they'll do what's best for the company with their skill set.

Tip #2 - Embrace the Entrepreneurial Lifestyle

Entrepreneurship tends to put stress on marriages. Between late nights, long business trips, and financial constraints, it's very difficult to manage a work-life balance when your life is your work.

This is where starting a business with your spouse becomes handy. Late night in the office? Don't worry, you're not leaving anyone waiting at home. She's working at the desk across from you -- and she looks like she could use some coffee!

Tip #3 - Set Clear Expectations

This is true of any business, but it's especially important when family members or friends are involved. The more clear you can make your expectations on goals and workload, the easier it is for your co-founder to help you execute. By setting clear expectations, you're taking the guesswork out of achieving your vision and taking stress off of your personal relationship with your co-founder.


Source: One Click Ventures Core Values

Tip #4 - Follow the Same Key Principles in Marriage as You Do In Business

At the end of the day, starting a business and starting a marriage are more similar than you'd think. If you're starting a business with your spouse, it's important that you make the same vow to them as a business partner as you did on your wedding night. Vow to give them:

  1. Trust- If you can't trust your business partner, you are in for a really rough startup experience. You should be able to trust your co-founder with anything. The same goes for your spouse. Make sure you show the same level of trust to them in the office that you do in your relationship.
  2. Commitment- Great entrepreneurs commit to their company and their co-founders at a religious level. This should be doubly true if you're committed to them in marriage as well. Any time you're feeling doubt about whether your spouse can handle the rigors of entrepreneurial life, remember the level of commitment you need to have to them, then help them get the resources they need to build their dream with you.
  3. Accountability- As in marriage, you need to be accountable to your business partner. If you forget to get eggs, own up to it. If you don't hit your business goals, own up to it. Only by being completely honest and accountable can you help nurture trust and commitment in your partner, and that's what leads to long-term business success.

If you're looking to start a business with a family member, you're bound to hear from plenty of naysayers. Remember, though, the best business partner is one that you can trust implicitly, and for most people, your spouse falls in that category. Randy and Angie made it work for their latest business, Felix and Iris.

Stick to these principles. Remain faithful as a spouse and business partner and you're bound to go far together.