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It’s far from uncommon. Actually, there were 2.7 million businesses owned equally by a male-female team in 2002, according to the latest studies by the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those, about 79,000 were black-owned. While it is #impossible to determine just how many of these were husband-and-wife #operations, anecdotal evidence proves many are spouses. #Couples say running a business with a spouse can be one of the greatest tests of a marriage. For copreneurs, a popular term used to #describe couples who manage businesses and families together, success requires diligent planning, constant communication, and a great deal of hard work.

For Nate and Tamiko Wayne, deciding what kind of business to open together in the winter of 2005 was their first challenge. Nate, 33, was set on starting an urban clothing store for men, but his wife had no interest in that idea. “I had reservations because I knew I would be an integral part of the business and I didn’t want to sell men’s clothes,” recalls Tamiko. Reaching an agreement “was like pulling teeth,” Nate adds.

Tamiko, 32, then a stay-at-home mom, wanted to open a #business that would be both lucrative and family friendly so that their three children, ages 4, 8, and 13, would enjoy spending time with mom and dad at work.

She convinced Nate, a professional football player with the Philadelphia Eagles at the time, that they should invest in a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream franchise instead. Through Nate’s networking contacts, they found the ideal location site in Atlanta, minutes away from their home in Duluth, Georgia.

After paying a franchise fee of $42,000 and an additional $250,000 for contracting, equipment, and supplies, the couple launched their franchise in December 2005. Franchises can be a good option for couples because their predetermined standards can help #minimize conflicts. Through trial and error, the Waynes have found an effective work-family balance and a profitable enterprise to boot. Last year their Cold Stone franchise grossed $527,150.

The Waynes are one of many copreneurial couples. Possibly the most famous example of copreneurship was hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who conceptualized and headed the #lucrative Phat Farm apparel line, and fashionista Kimora Lee Simmons, who runs the spin-off, Baby Phat. Though the couple separated in 2006, the two continue to work together on their clothing lines and various business interests.

According to Enlignment Inc., a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based executive coaching, consulting, and training firm that has studied such couples, the frustrations of working in corporate America, the drain on quality time at home, and the lack of stability in a shifting economy are the driving forces behind the growth in copreneurs. Joint entrepreneurship can offer spouses the freedom to run an #enterprise and the flexibility to do it on their own terms. The result of a well-thought-out business plan can be emotionally and financially rewarding.

The result of a well-thought-out business plan can be emotionally and financially rewarding.

Business Prenuptials
Before copreneurs can hang out a shingle, the business must be formalized. This includes incorporating, deciding on operating procedures,