For many couples, finding time to be together can be a challenge. But for couples who are running businesses together, spending too much time together can be a challenge. I set out on this Valentine’s Day week to visit businesses that are run by couples to learn what it takes to be successful together in life, love and business.
They said that one strategy is to get away from the business.
“If we’re here, we’re working – we need to get away to really relax, be active and to just be a couple,” Abe said.
They also credit their team of people.
“Learning to delegate and having strong people we trust has given us a chance to work on our relationship outside of the business,” Abe said.
The Furths met in college. They have been together as a couple for 13 years and in business for 10 of those years.
“We were very young when we started and have been able to grow together as individuals, a couple and business owners,” said Heather.
They have different responsibilities in the business based on their strengths and talents. Abe is more of the creative marketer while Heather is more detail-oriented.
“We respect each other’s strengths and opinions,” Abe said. “As a couple, there is implicit trust, honesty and we can share things with each other that we can’t share with anyone else.”
Down the street from Verve in Bangor, Betsy and Zeth Lundy own Central Street Farmhouse. The Lundys have been a couple since high school. They married in 1999 and opened their business in 2010. Three children followed.
Balancing the demands of a business, young children and a marriage can be challenging.
“You’ve got to like each other and have a really strong foundation as a couple in order to work together as closely as we do. We’ve been together for over two decades now, so we’ve got each other pretty well figured out,” Zeth said.
Similar to the Furths, they balance out each other well.
“Betsy’s level-headed calm balances out my anxiety. My attention to detail complements her big-picture world view,” says Zeth.
Married 38 years and in business for 14 of those years, the owners of Chapel Hill Floral in Bangor, Rick and Barbara Frye, agree that you have to truly enjoy being with each other to be together 24/7 in a hectic business environment. That said, the couple believe that spending time apart is necessary too.
“It’s important to pursue your own interests and spend some time away from your partner when you’re together all the time,” Barbara said.
Like the other couples, the Fryes bring different skill sets to the business.
“Rick handles the finances and more of the office stuff. I’m the creative one,” said Barbara.
They both confess to having strong opinions about the direction of the business. When they ultimately arrive at a mutual decision, inevitably one or the other will confess, “I guess he (or she) was right.”
Just down the road on Hammond Street is Wilcox Wellness and Fitness. Paige and Mike Wilcox opened their doors two years ago offering individual and group personal fitness and wellness education. The couple has been together in life for nine years, married for three and welcomed a son nine months ago.
Unlike the other couples, Paige and Mike Wilcox are not together in the business 24/7. Mike is at the business daily while Paige has a full-time career outside the business, making it challenging to find the time to focus on the business as a couple. As a solution, they schedule weekly business meetings.
“During these meetings we are not a married couple – we are business partners,” said Paige. They prepare an agenda before the meeting with a defined time frame to prevent their business meeting from carrying over into their home life.
Similar to the other couples, Paige says, “Our roles are clearly defined, based on our individual strengths and weaknesses. Each of us is able to make decisions within our expertise without having to constantly consult with the other person.”
“Running a business, requires you to make many decisions in any given day,” she added. “This strategy makes it a lot easier to run our business when we can’t both be there to run things by each other.”
These couples are proving that by paying attention to their individual needs and strengths, their relationships as couples and their businesses, it is possible to be successful together in life, love and business.