Keeping the bedroom out of the boardroom…..and the boardroom out of the bedroom

Business Insights
03/10/2018

Starting a new business can be challenging for work/life balance at the best of times – but when you’re one of the increasing number of couples starting a new business together are the boundaries harder to maintain?


We spoke to six leading entrepreneurs – or couplepreneurs if you like – couples running hugely successful businesses together about the challenges and benefits of being in business with your other half.


Keeping the bedroom out of the boardroom:


“This is not something that is particularly easy to do! It is natural to discuss what you have been up to during the day when you get home, even if you have spent all day working together! There is a tendency to never switch off, which, I imagine, is common for all business owners whether you are a couple or not.

“As with everything in life, you need to maintain a balance in what you are doing. Working and living together does have its distinct advantages but respecting each other’s space and having other individual interests can help ensure you can separate work and home life when you need to.”

Sarah and Chris Biggers – founders of the Courtyard Deli


Bristol based founders of TrueStart Coffee , Helena and Simon Hills have found that its gotten easier over time:

“Draw lines - rules that say when you start and stop working. It's not easy, but you have to do it. And don't beat yourself up if you "slip up" or have to work late - it's all part of it. We've got better at this over time - year one was full of burnout and meltdowns from having no routine or rules. We now recognise the signs a little better and know what we have to do to reset.”


Most important lesson to make a successful business with your other half?


The secret to success according to Dean Mason and Katy Pears who run Greencloud IT – based just outside Manchester is

“not to bring personal life into work, and keep it strictly business. Work together in moving the business forward. Make the passion relay into bringing new deals in and work on it together to enjoy the success.”


For Cat Benger and Ben Webeck founders of ABCpure its all about give and take.

For Ben:

“Quickly learning / identifying and then taking advantage of each other’s strengths and likes.”

And for Cat:

“It was understanding and recognising we both work in quite different ways and accepting that is ok. Our own unique approaches to suit us will be the most effective and yield the best results.”


And if you had to do it all over again what one thing would you do differently?

“Not rush. When the company first formed we weren’t really ready. We had no clients, no office nothing. It was chaos. Making the decision to build a business of our own and leave our respective day jobs, and moreover the guaranteed income was done almost overnight. In hindsight it forced us to work quicker and to get the business performing right from the start, but if we were to do it again we’d definitely make sure we were a little more prepared.”

Robbie and Zoe Woodward of Ohana Comms


A view echoed byJonathan and Ashley Shine founders of Mini-Epic

“We'd be more patient. We launched very quickly with our minimal viable product (MVP), partly because our offering was so unique we wanted to be the first out there, but also because we wanted to start generating revenue. In retrospect we could have afforded to be more patient, allowing us time to refine our marketing and commercial strategies before getting it out there.”


And finally -


All of the couples we spoke to felt that the benefits of being in business together were enormous. Far from the myth that it would be disastrous for their personal relationship - their relationships have benefitted. A few practical ground rules have really helped separate bedroom and boardroom and create a healthy and effective work/life balance:


“If we really need to talk about something to do with the business at home, we have a set time each day where we can do so. After that, the phones are turned off and the laptops are closed. When we launched our business we struggled with this a lot, and realised we were living our business, not our lives....so we challenged ourselves for one week, not to talk about business at home. And it was a revelation. The business didn't go under over night. The email we thought we should reply to immediately suffered no ill for being attended to in the morning. And most importantly we got to enjoy our family and each other as we should.”


Jonathan and Ashley Shine founders of Mini-Epic


Helena and Simon of TrueStart Coffee agree,

“we've found it's critical to have "switch off" time too - we're husband and wife above everything else, and now Mum and Dad to baby Leo. Nothing else matters as much as that, and we've recently found a rhythm and routine that gives us space to be all three - founders, partners and parents - every day.”


Seems like with good communication and lots of effort it really is possible to have it all…..


All of the businesses featured in this piece are founder members of Couplepreneurs a new global network for couples running businesses together. Find out more at www.couplepreneurs.co.uk