The Spice of Mixing Love & Business: Pros, Cons & Tips to Owning a Business with Someone you Love
Unless you’re mixing love and business, cash flow projections, feasibility analyses and marketing plans aren’t in the typical date night convo. But for the 19,000 husband-wife owned businesses in the Bay area, it’s something they just can’t get away from. Just ask Jason and Jade Seibert. Both love yoga. In fact, they fell in love after they attended class together. As their love for yoga and each other grew, they decided it was time to start Sublime Yoga in their home town of Dunedin. Now, the studio offers 15 different classes a week and has hired some of the top yoga instructors in the Tampa Bay area.
“We are working more hours now than we ever have before but we are still best friends and that status hasn’t changed. We had to learn to delegate within our areas of expertise and set guidelines for who is responsible for what,” said Jason.
Jack and Donna Killoren, owners of Ten Star Promotions | Ten Star Supply, decided to buy their business after 30 years of marriage and many years in management with some of the best corporations in the world. The couple was excited to apply what they’d learned in the corporate world toward owning their own business. In just five years, they doubled the company’s revenues, extinguished the firm’s debt, improved operational processes and boosted employee morale. However, their success has not come without its worries.
“Owning a business with someone you love is sometimes like going out to dinner for a date night and not taking your kids with you,” Donna joked. “You’re so in love with it that you can’t stop talking or thinking about it. You try not to, but your conversation always comes back to the business— whether it’s about your employee’s child in the hospital or a client order. You just can’t help it.”
When asked for advice for couples who’d like to set up a business together, Donna cautioned that although the ups and downs have ultimately made them closer, there are probably better ways for couples to become closer other than owning a business together. She said that the best part of owning a business with her husband is the family atmosphere they’ve created for their employees and when it comes to trusting a business partner, there’s no one better than your spouse.
The Donleys are another couple who left corporate America and tackled the world of entrepreneurship by starting Global Used Truck Sales. Brian and Elizabeth, like the Sieberts and Killorens, used their natural talents to grow their business. They saw an opportunity in the market that combined Brian’s expertise stemming from 22 years of working with a multi-national truck leasing company and Elizabeth’s project management, systems implementation and international sales. The couple continues to expand the business into foreign markets as the company continues growing.
Interview with the SBDC businesses: Pros, Cons & Tips to owning a business with someone you love
- Trusted business partner. Who better to trust than your spouse?
- Unified front. Both partners are vested in the business outcome and are dedicated.
- Creating a family atmosphere for the business boosts employee morale.
- Getting through the tough times strengthens the relationship.
- Flexibility to adjust for other responsibilities like family and health obligations.
- Spending more time together. Some couples hardly see their partners due to work schedules. Owning a business together is a guaranteed way to spend time together.
- Financially putting all your eggs in one basket.
- When times are tough, they are really tough.
- Can’t quit, or get fired—even when you want to.
- Relationship could feel like a business arrangement.
- Spending all your time together. It can be really hard to work with your spouse, or anyone you have a romantic relationship with, on a day-to-day basis and then go back to the romantic side because you are with them 24/7.
- Decide specific roles based upon individual strengths and talents.
- Remember to separate work from life and set restrictions on bringing work and talk of work activities into your personal life.
- Don’t forget to take the time to communicate with your partner just like you would any other business professional vs. assuming that that know you well enough to know all your expectations.
- Don’t take things personally. Something your spouse says could have an entirely different affect than someone you’re not romantically involved with like a co-worker or employee— especially if it’s taken as criticism.
- Don’t take each other for granted because you are around them 24/7.
- Scale back the perfectionist and superhero expectations that you tend to place on a partner. You’ll both make mistakes and miss deadlines so you can’t place a higher expectation on that person just because they’ve always exceeded your expectations as your spouse.
- Take a step back and enjoy the work you’ve done. Don’t let your natural tendency to strive for continuous improvements impede your ability to enjoy your business and spouse.