Entrepreneurial Couples

These Entrepreneurial Couples Share How To Make Business & Love Work-Together

Entrepreneurship

Love and business don’t always mix. In fact, more often than not, it leads to heartbreak. The reason, there’s no line drawn between the two. And when that happens, it leads to arguments. And that can lead to a breakup which can affect the business.

However, there are some couples who have somehow found a way to make it work. In the cases of these entrepreneurial couples, for most of them, love came first. And now, these couples are sharing their secrets on how to make your business and your love work together.

So, let’s take a look at what they have to say.

Peter Beukering & Stephanie Smolders, Founder of Tourist Exclusive

Peter Beukering & Stephanie Smolders
What comes first for both of you: business or love?

Love. No question. If you are with the person you love deeply, no matter what happens, you will always feel a deep sense of happiness. As a couple, we have gone through highs and lows. We could not imagine doing either of them without each other. When looking back at our lives, the memories of moments we shared as a couple are much stronger than the achievements in our businesses. You can share your life with your significant other, but not with a business. Business success, although exhilarating, can be toxic and energy-consuming. We both believe it does not really contribute to long-term happiness where love does.  

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

Schedule time for each other. A few moments in the week you dedicate to each other, no matter what. For us, that is Wednesday evening and Sunday. Both our calendars are blocked on Wednesday from 5 pm onwards. No calls, no emails, no work. Same for Sundays. We plan stuff together and try to be creative. Go out on a fun date (like a bouncy castle), bake cupcakes, or paint. We each are responsible for organizing our date nights every other week, and the challenge is always to be original. We also like to take at least one weekend a month off to go on a trip. Fly to a new place, book a 2-day spa or go on a mini road trip. Another big tip is to dine together. Unless a business dinner comes up, we always dine together. We look at each other’s schedules every morning to determine what time to eat. Sometimes this is 6 pm, other days it’s 9 pm. During this hour of quality time, we talk about our day and share whatever we want to share.

How do you support and motivate each other?

Listen and understand. We both learned that sharing does not always mean asking for advice. Sometimes you just want to be heard. When it comes to work, everybody has off days, bad meetings, and frustrating moments. Asking the right question is crucial to keeping the conversation positive. Questions like “How does it make you feel?”, “What have you learned from this?” and “How can you improve?” are not uncommon in our daily conversations. Support each other without judgment. Understand what your partner is experiencing and how they feel. From there, we try to look at the bright side. There is always a positive in every situation. It is the task of a partner to help you realize that sometimes, not by just pointing it out but by helping them realize it themselves through calibrated questions. Besides the bad, it is also very important to celebrate the wins. Each time either of us has a win to celebrate, we do a little dance and sing out loud. And at night, when we are in bed, ready to sleep, we sum up everything we are grateful for on that day. 

Firuza and Ramin, co-founders of ECOM ACADEMIE

Firuza and Ramin
What comes first for both of you: business or love?

Love came first. As soon as we met (and fell in love), we realized right away that both of us have common goals and aspirations – we both wanted to start our own company, achieve financial and location freedom. And today, these goals keep the spark alive in our relationship.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

Honestly, there isn’t much of a balance. We think the idea of work-life balance is a myth. Business is an inseparable part of our life. When you love what you do and truly enjoy it, you don’t feel like it’s taking over. We do have a routine where we mainly work in the mornings and afternoons. But as you can sometimes imagine, things happen, and you end up working at 11 pm too. In the first couple of years, this used to happen a lot, and we ended up working for 16 hours a day. But now that we have systems in place and have expanded our team, holding on to the routine is easier. If it’s not urgent, it can wait until the next morning.

How do you support and motivate each other?

We believe successful entrepreneurs don’t need motivation. If you need the motivation to work on your business, don’t start it. We ARE our business, and to work on our baby doesn’t require us to stay motivated. You don’t need the motivation to feed your baby, do you? We love what we do, even if once in a while we feel exhausted. Over the years, we’ve learned to prioritize tasks, to set time for self-care, and of course, travel keeps us alive. We’re in this together, and it’s an integral part of our lives. When you work together as a couple, we believe you need to structure your relationship a little differently. It might seem overwhelming in the beginning, but with the right mindset, your business will keep you closer and make your bond stronger. Open communication about the way you want to grow the business, the direction you want to take, overall objectives – you certainly need to discuss these regularly. What has helped us immensely is working on our mindset and spirituality. You’re more than a couple; you’re partners in everything.

Neethu & Rahul, Founder of Kasera

Neethu-Rahul

Neethu Sreedhar is the Co-Founder and Head of Operations at Kasera and Rahul is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kasera. They founded the startup Kasera in 2019 from their living room which is now one of the UK’s biggest furniture comparison platforms. Neethu has Corporate legal background and Rahul is a technologist turned marketer. They have been married since 2015 and both have a passion for furniture and home interior design which lead to the creation of Kasera.

What comes first for both of you: business or love?

For us, it is always love. We met and got married years before we started our business, so if it comes to choose between the two, it is always love. But we love the business we created, and we see it as an extension of our relationship, more like our first baby.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

We have some strict rules around that now that we have a baby. Even though it is hard to always stick by your own rules, we have certain days a month, which are exclusive family time, including no phone calls and work emails. Also, we have certain times during the day we block out for personal and family time. Having exclusive times like that during the day and the month help us to find a good balance.

How do you support and motivate each other?

We both have very complementary personalities and strengths. Rahul is the idea person who has 5 different ideas every single day and instantly gets excited when something works and disappointed when something fails. I, on the other hand, is someone who needs more reasoning and numbers. This works well for us as it helps us to get excited by new business ideas and opportunities but also back it using numbers and business cases which helps to avoid disappointments. This is quite evident in how we handle challenges as well; I am someone who needs a source of motivation when I encounter a failure, and Rahul is someone who gets up the next day and starts trying something new even after having failures. All this helps us to be at our best by supporting each other.

Jake and Jess Munday, Founders of Custom Neon

Jake and Jess

Jake and Jess Munday are husband and wife, entrepreneurial duo, and Founders of Custom Neon. What was once a small home business run from their family garage is now an international success, lighting up countries around the world with magnificent neon signs. 

What comes first for both of you: business or love?

Both: Without hesitation, love.

Jake: As a serial entrepreneur, I have started and run several successful ventures. Businesses can be bought and sold, or the landscape can change overnight, as we experienced with the pandemic. Love is a priceless commodity that we wouldn’t sacrifice for any business.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

Jess: Always maintain a good level of communication. If you don’t agree with a decision or feel the work balance is off-kilter, talk about it. It can be tough juggling family life and a business. We found that creating a schedule of duties really helped. We prioritize family time each week, our kids being 1 and 3 provide the perfect distraction from work pressure! It’s so important to make time for ourselves and each other too. I love to do a boxing class, and Jake loves a game of golf to destress. By looking after ourselves mentally, we are more present when we spend time together, usually in the evening when the kids are asleep! Life can be hectic, and we always remind each other how lucky we are to dictate our own schedules.

How do you support and motivate each other?

We both bring hugely different skill sets to the business, so we have clearly defined roles and respect the capabilities of each other to perform those tasks autonomously. We celebrate and champion each other’s successes and offer sounding boards for ideas.

Whilst we share the home duties, if one of us has been particularly under the pump, the other steps up at home to offer support.

We are a partnership in every aspect of our lives. While we strive for the success of our business, our ultimate aim is to create a happy, rewarding and meaningful life in which our children and marriage will flourish. So far, we are smashing it! 

Jennie Gao and Greg Ainsworth, Co-founders of Versine Skincare

Jennie Gao and Greg Ainsworth

Jennie Gao and Greg Ainsworth are the co-founders of Versine Skincare, a unique line of luxury facial serums formulated with OBGYN and dermatologist approval. Inspired by Jennie’s own difficulties in finding effective yet safe skincare while pregnant, the couple launched the products on June 1. 

What comes first for both of you: business or love? 

Love. As a husband/wife team, it’s highly unlikely the business will survive if we don’t work as a couple. We just wouldn’t work together professionally if our working relationship starts jeopardizing our personal relationship. It’s not worth it for us.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives? 

Because of the pandemic, we have worked from home a lot. For us, it’s important to have separate, physical workspaces. Similarly, we also have relatively delineated business functions. Obviously, we exchange advice and opinions, but we own separate responsibilities in the business. Also, we try to set aside time without phones and computers to focus on our relationship and our family, but that doesn’t always work.

How do you support and motivate each other?

We make a point of celebrating the wins together. For example, we have established little rewards for specific goals, and it’s so fun enjoying the rewards together when we meet our objectives. For our last celebration, we tried this famous Chinese rice wine called Moutai for the first time. It tasted like ethanol, but it was so fun!

Javier & Shannan Labrador, Founder of 247marriage

Javier & Shannan Labrador

Javier and Shannan, are marriage flippers and a part of CounterCultural Marriages.  They help couples shift their marriage mindset and understand how they intentionally GET to serve each other in their marriage.

What came first: business or love?

Love has always come first, as we cannot operate the work we do without a strong relational foundation. What we get to do was birthed out of our story and who we are; it drives our day-to-day decisions and actions. Without love first, business is transactional and not relational.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

Prioritize your love life in your relationship. If work comes before your relationship, your relationship will suffer, and in turn, the relationship will strain your work as well. So schedule date nights, times of intentional communication, and connection by putting it on the calendar! It’s not about trying to make them both even. It’s about giving your best to your relationship, which opens the door to bring your best in work.

How do you support and motivate each other?

Imagine saying, we see each other three days a week and greet each other with cheers and pompoms every morning; how would that sound? Not so great.

We know what refreshes and motivates one another and provides space to do those things. We encourage each other through our love languages and check-in weekly, if not daily, by asking: How can I best serve you today or this week? How can I better support you through what you are navigating? Here is where you could help me this week? Tell each other what you need, don’t leave them guessing!

Omarr & Leona Carter Certified Relationship Coaches, Founder of HeyCoachCarter

Omarr & Leona Carter

Omarr and Leona and are a part of CounterCulture Marriages. They talk about the misconceptions in the bedroom and empower couples to build long-lasting intimacy in their marriage.

What came first: business or love?

Love came first. It was because of our journey to love that we birth our business to serve other couples.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

One of the most important keys to remember is to communicate everything. Imagine sitting at the dinner table trying to contemplate how you are going to share with your spouse that you forgot the schedule the appointment with the tax consultant, all to find out your spouse comes to the table asking if you are ready for date night because they were able to secure reservations at a great restaurant. In this scenario, neither spouse communicated the objective for their time together; therefore, each spouse came with a different agenda.

Another important key to balancing work and love lives is clarifying your roles and allowing each other to operate in their lane of brilliance. One spouse may have a leadership role in one area and a supporting role in another area.

How do you support and motivate each other?

One of the most common ways we support each other is doing the activities together. For example, traveling to speak at conferences is an area of expertise for one spouse, but we both go to the event together. Another example was we wrote our first book together, one spouse was the experienced published author, and the other spouse was writing their first book.

Nellie and Philip Akalp, Founder of CorpNet

Nellie and Philip Akalp

Nellie and Philip Akalp are a husband and wife team who have been business partners since 1997. Fresh out of law school, they started their first business in their small apartment living room with $100. Eight years later, that company was acquired by Intuit for $20 million. The couple took a few years off to focus on their growing family – they have four children. In 2009 they launched their current company CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service that helps entrepreneurs incorporate, form LLCs, file DBAs, and more. CorpNet.com is an Inc.5000 company and is slated to do its best year yet in 2021!

What comes first for both of you: business or love?

Love in the form of a secure and functioning relationship with compassion, courage, and connection. All of which is built on mutual respect, trust, integrity, and accountability towards each other as friends, parents, lovers, and business partners.  

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

Open and honest communication and expressing our needs and wants with healthy boundaries for one another is vital to keeping everything balanced and functioning. It’s also important to take time out for ourselves – away from both our business and our children. Even if just a short weekend away really helps us unplug and regroup, so we come back stronger as a couple, as parents, and as business partners.

How do you support and motivate each other?

Listening is key! As I mentioned above, communication is really the ultimate factor in keeping us on the same page for every area of our lives. In order to be supportive and motivating, you really must know each other’s owner manual and really understand how each of your ticks and operate. And the best way to get to know that is by communicating. Once you know that about your partner, then you can support and motivate in a loving, compassionate way. 

Linda Miriam & Avigdor Levi, Founders of Crunchy Buzz

Linda Miriam & Levi

They have a combined 18 years of experience in digital marketing, website development, and design.

What comes first for both of you: business or love?

Love, for sure. We love our business, and we love each other, so we think of it as a holistic partnership. Obviously, our family is our first priority, and our business supports that, but we try to make it work so that there aren’t conflicts of interest between them. All that being said, we are not above discussing clients in bed.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

Make scheduled time for “dates” where work can’t be spoken about at all. And when one of you makes a mistake that may hurt your business, take a breather. It’s so easy to lose all sense of perspective and hold a grudge for something like that — but try to keep the mistake in perspective of your greater relationship. Also, as parents of a two-and-a-half-year-old (with another on the way), we feel that our child grounds us and keeps us from being workaholics. My best advice, definitely kids!

How do you support and motivate each other?

Appreciation and compliments go a long way. Recognizing all the work my partner does and always expressing the things that I admire. It helps to really identify one another’s strengths and delegate accordingly, so we each spend our time doing what we do best. Each partner brings certain strengths, so make sure to identify what you like doing more…Like Avigdor deals with all things finances, taxes, legal; Linda is always on top of general client communication. But we both have a hand in all the projects we work on to one degree or another, and we think the team work actually helps us build skills in our marriage.

Daniel and Joy Symonds, Founder of Symonds-Madison Funeral Home 

Daniel and Joy Symonds

Daniel and Joy Symonds own Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin, Illinois. They have been in business together for the past 8 years and for the entire length of their engagement and marriage. Daniel is a second-generation Funeral Director and Army Reservist. Joy has a background in politics and public relations. They live above their business and have two daughters, ages 5 and 3, and an adorable mutt named Abby.

What comes first for both of you: business or love?

Joy: Love always trumps business. Our commitment to each other is more important than what we do for a living. If we lost our business and both pursued different jobs, we would do whatever it takes to make each other and our kids happy. 

Daniel: Love. I love my wife and family more than the business, and I would give it up if I had to. They come first. But I do love helping other families through my business.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

Joy: Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! Dan worked hard on our business for a year before we got married and while I lived in another state. When we got married and began living together, we had to learn how to live together and work together at the same time. It took several years to work out effective boundaries between home and work, which is extra complicated when you live AT work and have a 24-7 business. It took some time for us to learn to compromise and discover what works for us, and it is still evolving. We prioritize dinner together as a family every night, Sundays for church and family time, and stopping work by 5 PM as often as possible. As our business has grown, we have been able to hire more staff to share the workload and give Dan more flexibility in his schedule.

Daniel: Listen to your wife. Happy wife, happy life is real. But seriously, it’s important to have open communication and be understanding of each other’s needs. And when that fails, remember she is always right.

How do you support and motivate each other?

Joy: The road of an entrepreneur is seldom smooth. We have had to build each other up during low times and enjoy the ride during high times. The pandemic was a huge stress for everyone. What helps is each having our own areas of responsibility for daily work. Dan handles operations, meeting with families, and funeral directing. I handle marketing and community engagement. We come together on the big decisions. And since we are both outside the other’s realm for the day-to-day, it improves our perspective. We are both goal-oriented and aspirational with our vision for the business. There is often stress and tension between his vision and mine, however. For example, I really want to find a family home with a backyard, while he wants to build a crematory and live in the funeral home forever. So we have different motivations for success, but we try to complement each other as best we can. It is an ongoing discussion, of course.

Daniel: Joy’s opinion of my job performance is so important. It tends to work out that when one of us needs reassurance, the other is there. She has supported me by helping grow our business. She didn’t have to work together with me (she made more money than I did in her field when we met!), but I am so grateful she did. I support her in any efforts she wants to pursue. I recently encouraged her to run for public office, and now she serves on our local library board, in addition to being a business leader and a great mom to our kids.

Damon and Stephanie Inlow, Founder of Vaporizers.ca

Damon and Stephanie Inlow

Damon and Stephanie Inlow are co-owners of Vaporizers located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Vapriozers.ca is a family-run business that started to help spread the word on vaporization and the benefits of vapour through plants and essential oils. Damon is 44 years old and has been a business owner since he was 20. Stephanie is 39 years old, has been part of Vaporizers.ca since 2005. They have been together as a couple since 1999 and married since 2004 and have two children, who also help with the business when not in school. The Inlows operate their e-commerce business from their home. They are involved in every part of the online ordering process, from stocking their inventory, packing each order themselves, and shipping their orders across Canada and the U.S. 

What comes first for both of you: business or love?

As a couple, we do our best to separate the work hours and personal hours. We constantly have open discussions about this topic, but at the end of the day, our business comes first during working hours, and once the workday is done, our personal, family, and love lives are the priority.

What’s your best advice for balancing your work and love lives?

The key is finding the balance and making sure that one doesn’t drift too much into the other. We believe it is okay to carry out personal duties during work hours and discuss some important business in the evening, as long as the focus is where it’s supposed to be when it’s business vs. personal time. It is also essential for us to dedicate specific family time where personal life is the priority, especially since we have two children. 

How do you support and motivate each other?

Stephanie: Damon motivates me through leadership and project management skills like keeping track of time and tasks. He is good at keeping our focus on the business, making sure we meet our deadlines. He always makes sure to follow up on the tasks that have not been completed. 

Damon: Stephanie supports me through her administrative and organizational skills. She has everything prepared when it’s time to start the workday and is always super helpful to finish off the day well with a whirlwind of assistance.

For more critical decisions and issues, it is all hands on deck. Both of us excel at focusing on the task and can help each other until the project is complete.

Stephanie and Guy Coffey, Founder of Frenchies Modern Nail Care

StephGuy

Stephanie and Guy Coffey have been married for 28 years. They are entrepreneurs who worked separately for decades before they co-founded the largest franchised nail care studio concept, Frenchies Modern Nail Care, in 2014. Since then, they’ve worked with each other virtually every day. With two teenagers, they balance family, business, and their own relationship to the needs of each on a given day.  

What comes first, business or love?  

Love came first and continues to lead. In terms of the sheer volume of words, business conversations far exceed relationship conversations. It is common for the first and last conversation of the day to be work-related. On the other hand, working together daily also affords many surprises “I love you’s” and gestures of respect to happen organically. One of the biggest advantages of working together is that we have no shortage of practicing conflict resolution on issues that, while they are important in a business context now, are meaningless compared to our relationship. The same principles apply – clarity in communication, aligned expectations, and a common goal.  

Best advice for balancing work and love lives?

Don’t try – it’s a fool’s errand. To have a balance, you need to be measuring and accurately predicting the needs of each other and the business. More practically, an expectation that the relationship and the business will be interwoven constantly is key to moving both Frenchies and our family consistently forward, adapting to changes individually, as a family, and as business leaders. Sharing the vision of what it means for the family, everybody in the family is “in it.” Through clear communication and daily opportunities to appreciate both, there’s an understanding and appreciation of the challenges and benefits of building a brand together.  

How do we support and motivate each other? 

Let’s face it, “opportunities for conflict resolution” is a nice term for challenges, disagreements, and, yes, even arguments from time to time. That’s what some couples picture when contemplating working with their significant other. What most people don’t consider is the opportunity to see and admire that person from a perspective other than their personal relationship. We are on Zoom calls together, we hear each other’s phone calls, we see each other in meetings, at conferences, and interacting with others on such a regular basis; there are so many opportunities to admire and complement (and compliment ) each other. To take it one step further, our teenage sons get to see Mom and Dad working with each other and others all day long. We believe the entrepreneurial environment they are immersed in is a classroom that can’t be replicated anywhere else: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Kind of like life, and they are learning it firsthand.    

All that makes it worth it, and there’s one more advantage to consider. When we were working for others or on separate entrepreneurial ventures, there were three focus points. Stephanie’s career. Guy’s career. The family. Working together tightens that focus to family and Frenchies. Many times even that blends together because we’re all in it. 100%.