Why Every Business Owner Should Sign A Cohabitation Agreement

Did you know you could lose your business if your relationship breaks down – even if you’re not married?

Words by: IIXIIST founder, Rebecca Klodinsky

Beauty and aesthetics is a booming multi-billion-dollar industry, and in Australia, it’s also a largely female-dominated sector with medical entrepreneurs and business owners truly making their mark in the hyper-saturated space. However, as women continue to shine in all facets of business and smash the proverbial glass ceiling once and for all, unfortunately, there is still little talk around making sure your personal finances are safe should the unexpected happen.

When it comes to personal-life meeting business-life, aka when love and money mix, protecting your assets is paramount. While it’s easy to get caught up in the cocktail of emotions and all those good feelings that come along with moving in with a partner, the fact is, if you live together as a couple, the law may recognise you as a de facto relationship, and your rights will often be the same as if you were married – meaning there is little protection to your assets if your relationship breaks down.

The importance of financial literacy is something that can’t be made clearer, particularly as women continue to out-earn men. To protect yourself and your business from any worst-case-scenarios happening, it’s important to set the rules from the get-go.

That’s where cohabitation agreements come in. This legally binding document sets out who owns what and in what proportion and lets you record how you will split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings, and other assets should the relationship break down.

A bit unromantic? Maybe. But being realistic when you first get together can save emotional and financial heartache in the future.

Rebecca Klodinsky is the founder of multi million dollar swimwear brand, IIXIIST.
Image credit: Supplied.

Mastering your money as an entrepreneur in the beauty and aesthetics industry is key for financial confidence; that’s just a fact. We all need it, we all want it. Equipping yourself with the knowledge when it comes to all things money doesn’t have to be hard, and the first step in the right direction is changing your attitude towards money and finances.

When it comes to protecting yourself should the unexpected happen and being more financially savvy, here are my five tips:

#1/ Set the rules from the get-go

Whether it’s a cohabitation or prenuptial agreement, be sure both sides are crystal clear on expenses and who will be contributing to what. Make sure you’re on the same page on what is considered discretionary spending and who will take maternity/paternity leave and for how long. If you can’t talk to your partner about these things openly at the beginning of a relationship, there are bigger issues at play.

#2/ Embrace intimacy (with your bank account)

It’s a common predicament to be in – we work all the time, we have a ‘good job’, but there never seems to be enough money coming in. Implementing smart financial practices will help you make responsible decisions and in return, build a healthy savings account.

To do this, start by getting intimate with your bank account – pull your statements for the past three months and take a REAL look at where you’re spending.

Do you have recurring charges that you completely forgot about? Monthly subscriptions from three years ago? Daily Deliveroo charges? Be honest with what you need versus what you can do without.

#3/ Set detailed financial goals

Just as you plan out your business, the treatments you offer, your marketing, your clinic growth, put some thought into your financial goals. What are your goals for your business, as well as for your personal finances? Maybe you’re aiming to open a second doorway for your business but have only vaguely set a price range, or you’re looking to revamp your e-commerce.

Establishing goals and their deadlines means being detailed in your numbers – down to the cent, having complete transparency with their attainability, knowing what needs to happen in your business and personal life to work towards them, setting deadlines and finding a way to be accountable.

Try investing in a dashboard system with trackable KPIs. This gives you a daily, monthly, quarterly, or annual snapshot of exactly where the business is — financial indicators, sales performance, marketing performance — all in one place. It also helps with communication and answering tricky questions in an efficient manner.

#4/ Seek advice, even if you’re not in doubt

Yes, many of us are good at juggling the grind, learning new things, taking on more responsibility, sorting out how we’re going to handle it all – it can be so easy to fall into a trap of not asking for help when you need it.

If you’re unclear about anything in relation to your finances; be it taxes, savings, debt elimination or investments, speak to someone trustworthy.

Confide in bank representatives, financial advisors, or entrepreneurial organisations. Employing experts (rather than trying to be one yourself) will mean the daily, weekly, and monthly financial housekeeping won’t slide or bog you down.

#5/ Don’t delay, start now

Building financial confidence requires a lot of discipline and patience. The earlier you start taking action, the better off you’ll be in the long run. An easy place to start is to create a monthly budget, cut out large expenses, and save as much as possible.

Speak to an expert about investing in the stock market and long-term bonds early in your career, and always pay down debt. It takes planning and hard work, but financial confidence is achievable when you have a set plan in motion.

There’s no denying the industry of beauty and aesthetics is only going to keep gaining traction, presenting a market of opportunity to grow your business and reach more customers. While successful businesses manage money well, financially savvy business owners are the drivers.

Over the past several years, prenuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements have become more commonplace as people increasingly recognise the wisdom of having a legally binding contract outlining who owns what and how the assets would be distributed in the event of a relationship breakdown.

There’s no shame in wanting to protect your business from any unknowns that could happen in your personal life, and doing this in a non-emotional, organised way can save a lot of pain in the future.

This article originally appeared in Vol 89 of SPA+CLINIC magazine.

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