The 21st Century has brought with it the age of social media, shifting global cultural into the digital age. The internet and mobile technology have enabled instant, responsive services with everything from education and shopping, to news and entertainment. Naturally, the culture of business has been impacted too. Companies no longer need a physical presence to succeed. Entire business deals can be conducted via e-mail, and advertising can be done through social media.
The consequence of this cultural shift has been a rapid rise in the number of couples starting their own businesses, like South Africa’s SweepSouth. While previous generations were tied to traditional jobs through lack of alternatives, modern technology has enabled partners, friends, and family members to quit their jobs and pursue their own entrepreneurial ventures.
Low Startup Costs
The most enticing reason to start a business with a partner is the initial low cost. This not only allows couples to begin with a low budget but reduces the financial risk of failure. While past generations had to prove financial security, take out loans, and secure property, the modern start-up needs only a business address and a website, the latter which can be rented for a low monthly cost.
Aisha Pandor & Alen Ribic, Co-Founders and husband and wife team behind South Africa's SweepSouth
In fact, until the company considers hiring employees, paying storage fees, or organizing private delivery of goods, most costs will remain low for some time. Dropbox, a file-sharing software, is used by over 500 million users, while entire business deals and transactions can be conducted using free or low-cost communication and office software.
A key reason for couples leaving deep-rooted careers to pursue their own business is that online trade and advertising allows a new business to become instantly competitive. Website building tools allow for complete beginners to produce responsive, high-quality home pages in just a few hours, while SEO expertise and social media advertising can be used to increase the odds of a new business appearing higher in the search results that well-established competition.
A combination of the lack of privacy generated by social media, and the review culture of rating businesses and their conduct in public forums, has resulted in the need for business owners to be more adaptive and open to change. Consequently, values are more important than ever, with a deep trend towards directors that care for their employees and listen to their customers. This is extremely attractive to couples starting their own business, who are already well-practiced at listening to one another and working towards realizing their shared dream.
This lattice management style has also proven to be highly effective among long-lasting companies, suggesting family-owned businesses that adopt it will dominate business in the coming century.
True Work-Life Balance
The biggest incentive to leave the rat race is the promise of a work-life balance, where couples not only get to pursue an ideal venture with a loved one, but can work together to invoke limits on the workday, and show support when their partner feels overwhelmed by the inevitable pressures of business ownership.
Ironically, despite couple owners having a healthier work-life balance, family-owned businesses have also been shown to be amongst the most profitable and long-lived.