Small Business Help

Female business owners take the lion’s share of home responsibilities

Melissa Phy | May 10, 2019
In a relationship, a 50/50 way of life appears to be the best scenario. Everything split evenly—costs, chores, responsibilities—seems fair, but it’s hardly realistic or romantic. Partnerships are more fluid than that. Sometimes it’s 80/20. Sometimes it’s 30/70. But things can get even murkier when a couple not only has a home together, but they run a business together, too.  

30% of small business owners run things with their significant other

TSheets by QuickBooks recently conducted a survey to gather information on small businesses and found about 30% of small business owners are running their company with their significant other.* And before they started their own business, 16% of them were stay-at-home parents. Running a business with your spouse seems great—most couples have shared goals and seemingly endless support. Their closeness to each other seems to be a good foundation for the business partnership. But how does the business partnership affect responsibilities at home?  

Female business owners still take care of the household

According to a 2007 Pew Research poll, sharing household chores is the third most important factor in a successful marriage. Generally speaking, there has been gender inequality in household work since the beginning of time. Men typically work in an office or in the field, whereas women typically take on all of the household responsibilities as their “work.” But when both halves of the couple are working, should that shift? Well, it looks like, despite their business responsibilities, females are still in charge of their households, too. Female respondents who run a business with a male counterpart said they are primarily responsible for basic errands, meal preparation, taking care of family members, and household chores. Female respondents with same-sex partners generally follow the same trend but are also more likely to share other responsibilities, both at work and at home.  Female business owners with male partners:
Family needMeMy significant otherWe share this equally
Basic errands54.17%11.67%34.17%
Meal preparation69.17%8.33%22.50%
Taking care of family56.67%4.17%39.17%
Household chores72.50%3.33%24.17%
 Female business owners with female partners:
Family needMeMy significant otherWe share this equally
Basic errands61.54%19.23%19.23%
Meal preparation46.15%32.69%21.15%
Taking care of family46.15%19.23%34.62%
Household chores40.38%25.00%34.62%

Business owners play up domestic strengths at work

Perhaps, just like at home, heterosexual couples fulfill typical gender patterns at work. In the TSheets survey, female respondents who run a business with their male significant other are primarily responsible for marketing, customer service, and accounting. Their male counterparts are, in a majority, responsible for sales, technology, and business deals. Interestingly enough, male respondents who run a business with their female significant other align similarly. The majority are responsible for technology, business deals, and sales, while their female counterparts are, in a majority, responsible for accounting, HR compliance, and customer service. A 2016 data report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows a similar national trend when it comes to genders and careers.  

One easy rule for success

Responsibilities in the organization can be different, but your work ethic should be the same. It’s a rule that could arguably be applied for home responsibilities, too. Forbes published a list of things couple-preneurs should do to ensure both a healthy business and happy relationship. They key takeaway is this: communication. Traditional gender roles or not, couples working together should define their roles, preferably by each other’s strengths, and make sure they’re both clear on them at home and in the office. A united small business is a strong one.  
*Methodology: TSheets by QuickBooks commissioned Pollfish to survey 1,067 U.S. adult business owners with or without employees. The poll was conducted in April 2019 with a margin of error of ±5 percentage points. The margin of error is larger for subgroups.
A little about Melissa Phy

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