Family businesses have been recognised as the backbone of many economies worldwide, contributing significantly to job creation, economic growth, and social stability (Rahman et al., 2017). Conway Centre for Family company (2018) showed that family-owned businesses made up 62 percent of all employment and 64 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).
However, beginning and managing a family company comes with a unique set of challenges, particularly when spouses are involved. One of the critical challenges that spouses face is managing obligations to one’s family and job.
Particularly for couples who must navigate the conflicting demands of work and family responsibilities during the launch period, juggling work and family obligations can be difficult. Support from the spouse has been noted as a crucial element that can help a family company launch succeed.
From the viewpoints of spousal support and work-family balance, this essay will look at the difficulties in beginning a family business. It will identify the problem, evaluate the current status of the research, and make recommendations for how to achieve a good work-life balance. The report will also evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions.
Launching a family business requires a great deal of hard work, commitment, and collaboration between spouses. It can be both a rewarding and challenging experience for couples.
While owning and operating a business together can provide numerous benefits, including financial rewards, increased autonomy, and the opportunity to work with directly with one’s spouse, it can also create unique stressors that can impact both the business and the family.
These stressors and challenges can be further complicated when both partners play a significant role in the company. To achieve a balance between job and family obligations, it is crucial to recognise the issue and create potential solutions.
The key problem facing couples who are launching a family business is how to balance work and family responsibilities while maintaining healthy relationships and promoting business success.
This section discusses some of the problems encountered by couples when establishing a family business and trying to balance the work-family balance responsibilities:
Time constraint is a significant problem that spouses face when launching a family business (Bird et al., 2017). According to Danes and Olson (2003), having one's spouse actively participating in the family business increases the chance of that enterprise's success.
However, the study also found that time constraints were a significant barrier to spousal involvement, and that spousal involvement decreased as the business became more established.
Additionally, time constraints affect the quality of spousal support that spouses can provide to each other, as spouses may not have enough time to fulfil their personal obligations, let alone support their partner (Gudmunson et al., 2009; Pearson, 2008).
Financial uncertainties and limitations have a significant impact on the work-life balance of family business members. As family businesses are often run by family members, all financial difficulties that the business faces can easily spill over into the personal lives of the family members involved (Jennings et al., 2013). One of the most immediate impacts of financial risk and constraint is increased stress and anxiety (Sinclair and Cheung, 2016).
Spouses worry about the financial stability of the business and how it impacts their financial security. This can lead to a lack of sleep, difficulty concentrating, and decreased productivity, all of which can impact work-family balance. Financial difficulties also place emotional strain on relationships between spouses (Gudmunson et al., 2007).
Disagreements over financial decisions or the allocation of resources can lead to tension and conflict both in the workplace and at home. This can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy work-family balance, as family members may find themselves constantly thinking about work even when they are not physically present in the workplace.
According to Dew (2008), financial risk and constraint can also impact the ability of spouses to invest time and energy into their personal lives outside the business. For instance, if the business is struggling financially, spouses may feel that they need to devote more time and energy to the business to keep it afloat.
This can mean that they have less time and energy to invest in other areas of their lives, such as spending time with their partners or children, pursuing hobbies or interests, or taking care of their own physical and mental health.
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Role conflict is one of the most significant challenges that arise when spouses are involved in a family business (Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985), and it is usually caused by lack clarity with respect to the roles of indviduals (Karkkola et al., 2019). Spouses who play an integral part in a family business may have overlapping roles and responsibilities, which can cause confusion and ambiguity about their specific duties and obligations.
Another reason is the different priorities of spouses. One of the spouses may prioritise business success over family needs, while the other spouse prioritises family needs over business success.
This causes significant role conflict and makes juggling work and personal commitments challenging. Role conflict may also be exacerbated by the fact that spouses may have divergent opinions about how to run the company.
Couples that struggle with difficulties such as spousal support and work-life balance have access to a number of techniques.
One of the solutions to address the challenges faced by couples in maintaining boundaries between family and work is essential to achieving work-family balance when starting and running a family company. Boundaries make it clear where each family member stands in the organization, which eases tension and family disputes.
Couples could plan certain hours for business operations and family time, for example, to ensure that there is a clear separation between work and family life. Couples will find it simpler to balance their time between work and home obligations as a consequence.
Another solution is to promote open communication within the family. Communication can help in addressing conflicts and challenges that may arise in the business and enable couples to support each other in achieving work-family balance (Wu et al., 2010). Family meetings can be organised regularly to discuss business-related issues and address any concerns that may affect work-family balance.
Additionally, open communication can help in promoting trust and mutual understanding between spouses, thereby reducing conflicts and promoting a positive family environment (Tjosvold et al., 2016).
Establishing clear roles and responsibilities aid in reducing confusion and conflict between spouses. Gudmunson et al. (2009) found that spouses who have clearly defined roles and responsibilities are more likely to have a successful family business. Defining roles and responsibilities may involve a collaborative process between spouses that takes into account each partner’s strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.
Clear roles and responsibilities also help to establish a sense of accountability and prevent overwork. For instance, if one partner is responsible for handling the finances, they will be held accountable for ensuring that the business’s financial goals are met. This can prevent the other partner from having to take on additional responsibilities and can prevent burnout.
Another substantial solution is for couples to seek external support to address the challenges posed by starting and operating a family business. External support can come from various sources, such as business coaches, family business advisors, and support groups for family business owners (Gudmunson et al., 2009).
Seeking external support can help couples to gain insights into effective business practices and developing strategies to manage work-family conflicts. In addition, external support can provide a platform for couples to network with other family business owners and learn from their experiences.
This does not only reduce the workload for spouses but also aid in spousal support and help achieve work-family balance (Chrisman et al., 2007). Hiring additional staff allows spouses to take time off when needed and prevents them from feeling overworked. Outsourcing certain tasks or hiring additional staff can also provide a fresh perspective on the business, leading to new ideas and strategies that can improve the business’s performance (Eddleston et al., 2008).
Proactive strategies involve anticipating and planning for potential conflicts and challenges that may arise in the business and taking steps to mitigate their impact on family life (Alderson, 2015). Couples can develop contingency plans for dealing with unexpected business emergencies that may require their attention outside regular business hours.
So that work doesn't get in the way of family life, couples might make it a point to schedule certain times for family activities and prioritise that time. Proactive coping methods, such as planning and time management, were found to positively correlate with work-family balance in a research by Zambianchi and Bitti (2014).
Overall, there are various solutions that can help couples in maintaining work-family balance while starting and operating a family business. These solutions range from establishing clear boundaries between work and family to seeking external support and adopting a proactive approach to managing work-family balance.
While each solution may not be suitable for every couple, it is essential to recognise that the challenges posed by spousal support and work-family balance are not unique and can be addressed through various strategies.
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The provided answers to the issues of spousal support and work-family balance while beginning a family business are pertinent, practical, and thoroughly thought out. The solutions draw on previous studies and research that have identified common issues faced by couples in family business settings. The choices offer a variety of tactics that may be tailored to each family business's unique needs.
However, hiring more employees is the ideal course of action to achieve work-family balance. (Chrisman et al., 2007). This would further free up time for spouses to participate in other family activities and to effectively manage the company together and encouraging the creation of fresh concepts to attain business success.
While the proposed solutions have their advantages, it is important to consider the unique circumstances of each family business before deciding on which solutions to adopt. For instance, developing clear communication channels may be more challenging for some couples than others.
Similarly, setting boundaries may not be feasible for couples with limited resources or in the early stages of business development. It is therefore essential to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of each solution before implementing them.
The difficulties of beginning a business while supporting a family are particular. Home business owners frequently struggle with conflicting objectives between their personal and professional lives.
This study investigates the state of marital support and work-family balance while launching a family business, analyses the problems associated with these hurdles, suggests alternative solutions, and evaluates the effectiveness of each. The study found that having a supportive spouse and finding a healthy work-life balance are two of the most crucial elements in beginning a family business.
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