Mu Sigma, one of the first unicorn startups of the country is in news not for business, but for leadership. The co-founders Ambiga and Dhiraj, once married to each other, and now divorced, are negotiating the exit formalities of Ambiga. While the market is abuzz at Dhiraj’s plans of buying the stake from Ambiga and General Atlantic to gain 51% of the company stake; the couple is split over the valuation of the data firm. According to Dhiraj, Mu Sigma is valued at around $800 million while Ambiga and General Atlantic consider the valuation at $1-1.2 billion.
Earlier, the risk factor in co-owning a business was much lesser as there was almost no participation of women (mostly) in the decision-making process. Historically speaking, to dodge taxation, men used to include their wives’ names in the businesses but that almost had zero interference from their latter.
Although, diversity is still a debatable topic in most of the boardrooms, there have been some changes in the dynamics of entrepreneurs – from women to men – they are just taking a plunge believing in their dreams and making it big! While entrepreneurship is still a serious game of business, people like Ambiga and Dhiraj are also developing their dreams into visions. There are many examples where married couples have delved into a business and are successful too – like Mu Sigma. However, challenges come and it’s not always easy to steer clear of them.
Any separation is painful. Imagine, separating from your business partner who is also your spouse – it’s a double whammy. Because neither can you run things professionally together, nor can you seek solace in the personal space. What do you do?
Here are a few things which you should take note if you happen to start a venture with your better half.
Avoid same aspect of business
Since you have taken the decision that both of you are interested in starting your own unique venture, make sure that each take care of a business aspect which is separate. If you are good in the operational side, then ask your partner to look at the finance or management part of the business. Anyway, what’s besides the point is, both need to look after all the aspects some time, but until and unless your assistance is required in the ‘other’ function, try not to meddle with the plans of your partner. Your goal should be to look at the ‘end-in-mind’, rather than picking points at any given time.
Be practical & jot down the specific ‘pre-nuptial’ agreement
It might seem irrelevant in the beginning but there are more people who are signing pre-nups agreement (marriage). The same thing can be done in case of your business. Get a good legal team to help you with detailing of the major funds, processes, intellectual property rights issues, mortgages, etc. When you plan your agreement, do mention what happens if death, disability or even divorce happen – chalk it down to the minute details. It’s not easy to segregate things when there is hatred. You will have a far clearer and focused mindset when you are not fighting over issues.
Perspectives in arguments
Arguments, heated discussions, mental mismatch, disagreements are normal. But always remember that when business is in the picture, talking about personal issues, picking points on what your partner did when s/he was at home are not something that you should avoid. Argue about the wrongdoings, frictions related to work and be very precise with your choice of words even if you are unhappy.
Keeping it professional
Both of you are passionate about your work, business, idea, yet you are a married couple who like any other love to enjoy some ‘us’ moments. However, office is not the right place to engage in any sort of PDA even if you are the CEOs. Just simply be professional. You might have a very informal way of starting/looking at things but make sure it doesn’t hinder professional success.
Your ‘startup’, ‘business’, ‘dreams’ is the extension of your existence. You give 110%, that’s known. But take some time out to iron-out the frictions that may arise out of running a business together as a couple. Let go of any business related issues during the holidays. However, difficult it is, take a break together.
Building a dream together is not easy – be it marriage or a business. And when you are in it together, you might as well take care of all the essentials possible for future hiccups. All it takes is some practical insights and planning way ahead.