Copreneurs: Partners and Married Couples in Business Together!

by Pamela on February 9, 2010

There’s a Term for My Clients!

I just learned that there’s a name for partners and married couples in business together: ‘copreneurs.’ I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know this until recently. Clients of mine, who happen to be a married couple and run a business together, found the term while we were having a discussion outside of our session. I’m positively giddy! There is actually a society for this! It’s called Copreneur Society. I can’t vouch for the organization, but their site is informative, so I wanted to point them out because I’m so blown away by this.

All this time that I’ve been coaching partners, married or otherwise, and I never knew there was a cool name like ‘copreneur.’ I never set out to coach couples. It wasn’t even on my short list of potential niches. When I was coaching at StomperNet, a lot of my clients were in business with their spouses and some were friends in business together. I was suddenly coaching two people simultaneously. I never thought to put a label on them; I just went about the business of coaching.

There is a vast amount of information on the topic. If you are working with a partner or spouse, I encourage you to search the internet for “copreneurs” and even “couplepreneur.” There are forums and discussion boards for copreneurs that may be of great help to you. Having a place to go to hear how other couples make it work is a great resource. You’ll probably recognize most of the same issues that challenge you.

Copreneurs face issues that might not come up when working alone. There are complicated interpersonal dynamics and they’re hard for some couples to navigate. When you partner with a friend, you work to preserve the friendship, and you get to go home separately at the end of the day. When you’re a married couple who share a business, you have to keep your love intact, and you have to go home together! You might be raising children together as well, which adds another potential wrinkle to the mix. Ultimately, you need optimum communication skills so that you’re both getting what you need to thrive. And, you need to stay focused on a common goal- running a successful business. If only I knew someone who could help you do that…

Currently, I’m working with copreneurs who are married, and one of the couples has agreed to be my inspiration for future posts. I’m going to share some of their challenges and talk about how the three of us are working to improve the way they interact with each other to achieve a common goal.

As a copreneur, what are your biggest obstacles and how do you overcome them? What topics would you like to see me cover in future posts? I’d love to hear from you.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean Charles February 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Actually there is a more specific term for life partners who are in business together – “couplepreneurs”. I have seen the term copreneurs applied to sibling, or parent/child business partnerships as well as couples. Whatever you call couples in business together, you are right that their issues are unique and quite challenging. I look forward to reading more about your work.

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Pamela February 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Hi Jean-
Thanks for sharing your wisdom! I really appreciate it. I recently added this niche to my offerings almost by default. I coached both married couples and business partners who ran small businesses when I worked for my last company and never really classified it as its own niche. As I continue to coach in this arena, I’ve been encouraged by clients to focus on it more. I’m working on writing more content on the subject.
We should chat some time.
I just bought your book and am looking forward to reading it!
Thanks for visiting.
Pamela

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Elizabeth February 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Copreneur is a new term to me. I never heard of the the term couplepreneurs . . . I wondered who decides what words mean. I guess as a society we all do.

A quick search on Google reveals that there are today 6,190 pages in Google’s English language index that refer to the word “copreneur”, and according to those pages it does seem to equate with adult couples who live and work together. But the word sounds French in origin.

The term couplepreneur only has 719 pages in Google’s index, so is definitely a less used phrase and less well known.

On French Wiki Answers someone says this about the everyday use of the word “copreneur”. Je croie que ça se réfère à un couple, par exemple un mari et sa femme, qui montent une affaire ensemble. Which basically says the term describes a husband and wife team who start a business together.

Legally however in France the term is applied to any number of partners who rent together or a right to farm on someone else’s land. “Celui qui prend, conjointement avec un autre, un objet à loyer ou à ferme.”

Another reference : http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/28860843/Do-You-Have-What-it-Takes-to-be-a-Copreneur
At least anecdotally.

My opinion is that the term copreneur relates mostly to most people who’ve heard it, to couples who live and work together.

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Leila March 2, 2010 at 1:41 am

Hi Pam,
How nice to find your reference to our Copreneur Society site. Because “copreneur” still feels like a new term to some, we are retitling it to the Couples in Business Network. We have some plans for more of a social network around the concept.

It’s good to come across yet another coach working with copreneurs.

Best,
Leila

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Pamela March 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Hi Leila-
Sorry for the late response, I’ve been offline for a few weeks. I do like the name “copreneur,” but until it catches on, I think you’re making a wise decision.
Currently, I am working with a few married couples and I love it. What an interesting dynamic.
There’s a big difference between couples and partners who don’t have to go home together. There is a richness in working with both groups.
Thanks for visiting!
Pamela

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Damaris October 30, 2010 at 11:35 pm

The term ‘Copreneurs’ makes sense but I like coupleneurs better! It’s more personable and adds a deeper appreciation for the balancing act couples must manage.
My partner told me, during a heated discussion, “find any couple that spends 24/7 with each other and are happy!” I did not know any but then again, I didn’t know any Entrepreneurs and now I do and am one…the conversation ended by a suggestion on his part, “would you like to have counseling” I think that’s a fab idea but I believe in counseling from one who has lived it or living it.
Many years ago, as an information broker, I read a book on “Home Team.” It gave really good guidelines on how to manage what we are calling “copreneurs” It was an excellent read but pre-mature for me at the time I read it…oh what I would do to find that book again!! Looking forward to hearing the management tips for a successful relationship and business in one!

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Chris January 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm

My husband and I have been working together for the past 4 years… .and it still has it’s chanllenges. Currently we are working on trying to find a way to communicate that doesn’t turn into an argument.. sometimes it is very difficult and try as we might..sometimes they overflow in front of employees… and currently one of our most valuable employees is wanting to leave because of the tension and we are trying to find a way to communicate and be heard clearly. So off to web I go to search for ideas… Got any??

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Pamela January 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Hi Chris-
It sounds like you have a clear picture of the problem and that’s half the battle- good for you!
You actually stated the answer in your comment: You need to find a new way to communicate with each other. With the right help, it’s a skill that you can learn.
While there is no “one size fits all” answer to your problem, I would start by validating what your employee has said to you, so that he/she knows that you’re listening. Maybe something like “I know there are times when it gets a little tense around here, and I want you to know that we (meaning you and your husband) care about each other, we care about the business, and we care about you all (meaning the employees). We will find a way to communicate better, because it’s important to us.”
I feel as though I just described what parents should say to the kids when things aren’t going so well in the marriage- but a small business run by copreneurs (or couplepreneurs) IS like a family.

I’m going to email you privately, and I hope this short answer is helpful.

Take Care,
Pamela

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