Hearts and Charts: Tips for couples on successfully co-owning a practice

February 21, 2024   |   Healthcare Professional

Like marriage, co-owning a practice with your spouse has ups and downs. While owning a business together offers the opportunity to work closely with your partner and create a shared vision, it also brings obstacles that require careful navigation. 

In honor of February’s celebration of love, the following are some do’s and don’ts to help clinician couples successfully navigate co-owning a practice. 

5 Tips to Consider When you own a Practice with your Spouse

Prioritize Clear Communication

When you know your business partner intimately, it’s easy to fall into patterns that work at home but aren’t ideal for work. Ambiguity at home might mean the dinner dishes stay dirty in the sink. Ambiguity at work might mean important tasks are overlooked.

Regularly communicate and collaborate with your partner to ensure you’re both on the same page. This means talking about your goals, expectations and challenges. It also means sharing information and ideas. 

Do: Consider scheduling formal meetings on the calendar with your partner, even once your practice is up and running smoothly.

Define Roles and Tasks 

One of the biggest hurdles of co-owning a practice with your partner is establishing clear roles and responsibilities. When both partners are involved in day-to-day operations, it’s easy for lines to get blurred and confusion to arise. To avoid this, clearly define who is responsible for what tasks. This includes everything from patient or client care to administrative duties and financial management.

Do: Maintain open and honest communication with your spouse about business and personal matters. Regular check-ins can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.

Establish Boundaries

When you work with your partner, it’s difficult to turn off the work switch when you’re at home. This can lead to burnout and resentment. Set clear boundaries between work and home life to avoid this. 

Do: Set aside specific times when you’re unavailable to discuss work-related matters each day. 

If you work from home, create a dedicated workspace where you can focus on your work without distractions and put it away while focusing on being at home.

Invest in Getting Support

Disagreements are inevitable in any relationship, but they can be especially challenging when you co-own a practice with your partner. To avoid letting disagreements escalate into conflict, it’s important to have a conflict resolution plan in place. This plan should outline how you will address disagreements in a constructive way. It should also include a decision-making process when you can’t agree.

Do: Consider proactively seeking professional advice from a therapist or business coach from the start. Outside support from a therapist or business coach can help you identify the root of your conflicts and develop strategies for resolving them. 

Prioritize Time for Self-care 

Running a business and a home with your spouse is a lot of time spent together. Find ways for each of you to do something you love. Do this together for the sake of your relationship and alone to maintain a healthy self-care balance.

Do: Set aside time for yourselves and your relationship outside of work.


3 Mistakes to Avoid When you own a Healthcare Business with your Spouse

Don’t mix business with personal conflicts

Airing your dirty marital laundry at work can disrupt your business and marriage. It’s especially awkward for anyone who works for you. You might even struggle to hide tension from clients or patients. 

Don’t: Allow personal disagreements to spill over into your business. This can negatively impact both your relationship and the success of your practice. 

Don’t make big decisions without discussion 

In your home life, you and your partner might naturally fall into specific roles to run the household. One of you might manage the shopping and meals, and the other might manage the finances. But running a practice requires more intentional thought and planning. Many tasks require research, outside advice from consultants and hard work. You’ll make better decisions and maintain a better professional relationship if you keep your spouse in the loop. 

Don’t: Assume roles or make significant decisions without discussing them with your spouse and reaching a mutual agreement.

Don’t ignore financial planning 

The stakes of owning a private practice are higher when your spouse is your partner. Long-term financial planning for your business and household can make both more manageable.

Considering doing the following: 

  1. Develop a comprehensive financial plan with a qualified financial advisor to outline income projections, expenses, savings and long-term financial goals. 
  2. Establish short-term and long-term financial goals, such as revenue targets and debt reduction. Regularly review your progress towards these goals and make necessary adjustments to your financial strategy.
  3. Maintain separate bank accounts, credit cards and financial records for your household and business finances. 
  4. Track all income and expenses related to your practice with accounting software like Quickbooks and consider hiring a qualified accountant specializing in the healthcare industry. 

Don’t skip protective guard rails for your practice

Establishing a clear ownership agreement is essential for protecting a practice you co-own with your spouse. Consider working with a business attorney to create an agreement that outlines the ownership structure, including each partner’s ownership percentage, as well as the rights and responsibilities of each partner. It should also address what will happen in the event of a partner’s death, disability or divorce.

Investing in comprehensive liability insurance coverage is crucial to protect your practice and assets in the event of legal claims or disputes. You should receive a notice when your malpractice insurance is up for renewal. If one of you misses that notice and your insurance lapses, you likely won’t be retroactively covered in that period. 

Don’t: Neglect to determine who manages private practice insurance coverage so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

By following these do’s and don’ts, clinician couples can navigate the challenges of co-owning a private practice together while maintaining a strong and healthy relationship.


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