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The business of marriage

Today, Prince William and Kate Middleton announced that they are getting married next year.  This is very exciting news and couldn’t have come at a better time, since most of the country is still suffering from the economic crisis and we are waiting with trepidation to see what havoc the cuts are going to cause. So to have a joyous occasion to look out for, is fantastic.

And that got me thinking about marriage and business. An odd combination maybe, but not as odd as you may think. After all, a marriage is really a business contract, in which 2 partners agree to share their life and their wealth together, to look after each other and to bring up any children they may have.  In much the same way, business partners can agree to share their business and their profits, look after each other and any shareholders they may have.

And just like marriages can end in divorce, so can business partnerships end in ruin. People generally get married because they love each other, and they are sometimes blind to each other’s failings (or at the very least tolerant of them). Business partners however, should need no feelings of love in order to get into business together, yet very often it is feelings that can cause problems in a business partnership.

How many people do you know who have gone into business with a friend, only for that friendship to end in disaster after a few years of working together? Some people would say that friendship and business categorically don’t go together, but I wouldn’t go quite as far as that.

I do think that it is important that you like the person you’re setting up your business with, just like you have to love the person you want to marry. You have to know each other well and respect each other’s differences. But you also have to make sure that your relationship is clearly defined in a solid contract, so that it’s absolutely clear to everyone what’s expected of each, and what would happen if things went wrong. That way, you’re much more likely to end up with a successful partnership, than when you just jump into the deep end.

So, I hope that because William and Kate have had a long engagement, with plenty of time to get to know each other, and plenty of opportunity for Kate to know what she’s letting herself into, they’ll have a long and happy marriage. And if you’re thinking of setting up a business with someone, remember that it might be a bit like a marriage: there has to be love, but there also has to be common sense and a solid prenuptial!

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