Healthy Competition in Family Businesses

healthy competition when husband and wife work together in a family business Successful entrepreneurs are achievers and highly competitive, otherwise they couldn’t create a successful business venture. Sometimes achievement, motivation and a healthy dose of competitive spirit are all that sustains the entrepreneur during extremely difficult times. Yet, what happens when this competitive nature enters the family business? First of all let’s consider this important question:

What are some signs that you’re in competition with your spouse?

  • Do you feel envious of your spouse, or resentful? You’re experiencing competition.
  • Do you feel smarter than your spouse or the need to have the last word?
  • Do you evaluate the worth of yourself and your partner by how much you each earn?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re in competition. It’s not always easy to admit this, but once the truth comes out you’re in a better position to work with the inevitable consequences. I suggest you resist the urge to be embarrassed by your competitive nature. And certainly you don’t want to suppress it or even deny it. Courageously admit it and acknowledge the problem to your spouse.

Then do what successful entrepreneurial couples do to work with it . . . they encourage it! They do, however, insist on one unchangeable boundary….their relationship is off limits. That is, their love for each other and commitment to their marriage and family life come before business or career needs.


How can you foster competition in your business without compromising family feelings? Here are five suggestions:

  1. Give credit where credit is due.
  2. Build in rewards and incentives into your business for each partner to achieve.
  3. Pay each spouse the money they’re worth. Instead of paying only the founder of the business and undervaluing the other spouse’s unpaid help, the supportive spouse should receive payment for what he or she is worth and not a penny less.
  4. Bonuses aren’t banked for the common good, but awarded to the spouse who achieved the reward.
  5. Encourage each other to achieve their dreams, to express their strengths, to utilize their talents. If this means besting your partner in a career or business move, it shouldn’t be threatening to your spouse, but viewed as a challenge to work toward his or her own excellence.
Worrying about ego or pride is a waste of precious energy that can better be used in pursuit of your dreams or being creative. Would you like a qualified business coach to help you productively harness your competitive spirit? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Or you can take advantage of video education for entrepreneurial couples. That way not only do you succeed, but your spouse, family, business and community benefits as well.

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