In it together: How UK couples run a business

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Do couples that work together truly stay together? Here is the advice from the partners that are already doing it…

Couples are starting businesses together across the UK – and here are the keys to their success.

Across the UK and around the world, more couples are calling time on the rat race and instead pursuing their dream business together. Indeed, these couple-preneurs seem to offer the best of both worlds: the freedom of running one’s own business, and the support of a loving partner.

With modern enterprises, like Glassraven in Cornwall and Claire and Andy Burnet’s Chococo in Dorset, increasingly using the internet to grow their brand, it is becoming cheaper to launch your own business, and new companies can find themselves competing with well-established competition in record time.

Of course, the fear any couple faces establishing a business together is what if not only the venture fails, but it breaks apart the relationship in the process. The key, as with any business partnership, is setting clear rules and sticking to them.

defining success

Define success

One of the most important pieces of advice so often overlooked by couples caught up in the excitement of starting their own business, is to take a moment to define what the aims and intentions of their business should be, and how each of them define success.

While two people may share passions, goals and ambitions in their personal life, they might have very different ideas of how to achieve targets in a professional setting. Having these conversations early on will not only help you to understand one another’s mindset, but it will allow you to agree on short, medium and long-term goals.

It can be incredibly frustrating to allow yourself to feel excitement at the prospect of your business moving forward, only to learn that your partner is feeling negative for defining success by other measures. Agree your targets early on, so you can both enjoy progress together.

Understanding each others roles

Understand each other’s roles

Many couples work well together because they understand where each other’s strengths and weaknesses lie. If you are yet to agree upon your separate roles managing the business, do so sooner rather than later, then stick with them!

Complementing one another’s talents allows you the benefit of trusting the other to handle an aspect of the business you might otherwise struggle with, while you in turn are trusted to manage the areas you most enjoy and excel in.

Husband-and-wife owners of Fen Farm Dairy, Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore, understand the benefit of keeping to the roles that suit their skills. While Jonny devotes himself to making the cheese, selling the milk and developing the farm, Dulcie utilises her writing and marketing skills to focus on website development and brand promotion.

partner’s habits

Respect your partner’s habits

We all experience those moments when our partner’s habits drive us crazy. However, unlike in a relationship where you can take some time to cool off, running a business is demanding and requires constant attention.

Just as some of us relax in different ways, so to do we work in manners that suit us best. Some need complete silence to concentrate, while others are stimulated by noise, music or conversation. Some of us are early birds, ready to catch the worm at 6am, while others are night owls that burn the midnight oil.

Just because a couple shares their life with one another, it doesn’t mean they need to share the same working habits. Learn one another’s routines and preferences. If one of you prefers to work from home while the other sets up shop in a rented office or a coffee shop, encourage these arrangements. It’s not personal if you work apart; it’s what’s best for business.

Nurture your relationship

Nurture your relationship

Owning and running your own business shares a lot of similarities with a loving relationship: both will reward you with an incredible sense of well-being and accomplishment, but the cost of that reward is large amounts of your time, money and energy.

When running one’s own business, it is all too easy to ‘check one more e-mail’ or ‘quickly update the website’. There needs to be a point in the day when the business partnership is put to bed, and the loving relationship can enjoy some time together.

This can be one of the most difficult pieces of advice to follow, but you should consistently remind each other why you’re together in the first place: love. Love of each other and love of your shared vision. Never neglect one another emotionally, remind yourselves of each other’s achievements, and take time away from the business to enjoy your hard-earned success together.