Two’s Company

With Valentine's Day on the horizon we decided to write an article on couples working from home.

As well as finding iHubbub members who have successfully made their home business relationship work, we found lots more about working with partners and family.

Read incredible advice for couples in business.

We spoke to a few of our home business couples and asked them what makes a successful working and living relationship work for them.

Many millions of couples the world over, find such huge satisfaction and success working from home together while running their own business

Mama Jeanius Katie Powell

Katie set-up the British Designer Maternity Jeans brand, Mama Jeanius in mid 2011. Mama Jeanius is a specialist business focusing on a niche market and the design, manufacture, distribution of a unique collection of maternity jeans. 

Mama Jeanius is a specialist business focusing on a niche market and the design, manufacture, distribution of a unique collection of maternity jeans. Katie initially ran the set-up of Mama Jeanius around her first baby and as the business grew her husband Anthony joined the company full time.  This was partly driven by the catalyst of Anthony having an option to exit from Morgan Stanley, where he was in a number of senior roles on the trading floor. 

Working together and living together along with the arrival of their son Freddy has been an interesting journey with some steep highs and some rutted-lows. 

They both feel they need to be very structured and organised around separating business and home and there has been a real focus on communication and making sure both are working to the same goals. 

Anthony says that they run Mama Jeanius like any good organisation, where weekly meetings are held and roles are very clear. 

Katie adds that she also makes sure she splits her time effectively between  being a ‘Mum’,  running the ‘Home’ and the ‘Business’.

There is no doubt this took adjustment and some heated debates to achieve! 

It has been a steep learning curve for Katie and Anthony and they have to be careful that the business does not ‘take over every waking hour’. 

 

Katie Rules

Katie says they find rules very helpful. Their few rules:

  • Keep business to Monday – Friday
  • Sit down and have a face to face meeting once a week to set-out the plans
  • Have clear goals and clear roles
  • Talk to each other about any issues
  • Make sure there is space for each other's interests outside of the business

As they ‘don’t go out to work’ there can be a perception amongst their friends and family that they have it ‘easy’ – but Katie and Anthony agree this is far, far from the truth.

Anthony says that one moment they may be discussing the Australian market and then the next minute they're into fabric choice for their next collection or what that week's social media plan will be. 

 

We have to multi-task and juggle on a constant basis. We have a hard work hard ethos, and every minute of every day is filled.

Take a look at some of the images that Katie and Anthony have posted in our Business Products Gallery.

Lisa Whiting

Lisa Whiting works within iHubbub’s PR and Marketing Team and prior to iHubbub she founded an cyber security software development company with her ex-husband.  The company went from a tiny start-up to a thriving SME with a team of 12 members of staff in just over 3 years, but sadly the couple separated in February 2012. 

Lisa puts this down to the direct effect of them being together 24/7.

Not only did we live together but we were also in the office together and having time away from each other was very difficult.  To try to keep the spark going in their marriage, Lisa tried to instigate things like date nights, but all her ex-husband wanted to do was work. Lisa Whiting is part of iHubbub’s PR team and prior to iHubbub she founded an cyber security software development company with her ex-husband.

He would stay in the office all day and late into the evenings working on programming for the software products while she ran run the operational side of the business.  This led to enormous pressure on their marriage and when they separated in February 2012 (after 16 years together) she swore that she would never again work with anyone in a relationship capacity.

Lisa now works from home for iHubbub and got together with her fiancé Russell after knowing him for ten years. Very naturally and organically they started to work together and Russell supports Lisa with administration, IT, setting up databases and working on her website. 

Although he has is employed full time, he works from home too a lot of the time so they end up being together most of the time and work extremely well together. 

Their relationship is based on a 50/50 partnership so if the washing needs putting on or the dishwasher needs emptying Russell won’t wait for Lisa, he’ll do it himself.

This sounds pretty much like Ken and myself. We just naturally fit in with home tasks. Whatever needs doing gets done by whoever is there on hand to do it. If I am busy and Ken is downstairs and sees a home task, he does it. The same way around, if Ken is on the phone or in the middle of an important email, I'll get dinner on the go.

Lisa says she always encourages Russell to do things away from her such as spending time with his friends and family. He often does the shopping sometimes without her.  Ken loves to do this because he grumbles that I take too much time poking around at new products and I don't get done quick enough!

Lisa says ...

Although we are together 24/7 we try to maintain some balance of being apart to keep things interesting.

Dr Zigs

Danny and Paola Dyboski-Bryant who run Dr Zigs bubbles believe that working together running their home based business is great and advocates that same way their strengths complement each other in their relationship comes out in business too.

Danny manages manufacturing and logistics, while Paola does most other things. Like most other home business couples working from home, they also share household tasks and play to each others strengths.

Although Paola says she is sure she does too much washing up, they do balance work and home ‘from home’. She says it can be difficult somedays, especially when the kids need attention.

Danny says they try and have dates together to keep things fresh, though Danny and Paola who run Dr Zigs bubbles believe that working together running their home based business is great not often enough, and they often do end up talking about work, or future plans.

Their breaks are few and far between, and most of their gigs are at weekends, so evenings can be spent catching up on the odd email, but they will make a point of sitting together and chatting through stuff too.

They celebrate ups and handles downs the ups by popping out for a 'pizza and a pint' at their local.

Their kids help with the business and are such a big part of the process that all celebrations 'belong' to the family - and so Danny and Paola often will crack open a bottle of bubbly when they're all in bed. Sounds like a plan ...

When it comes to downers, well, this couple believe those horrid days always pull them together.  They focus on solutions and how to fix things rather than the negatives. Ken's and my sentiment exactly!

 

Zack Edwards

Zak Edwards, MD of Prezzybox.com says he is no relationship expert but does live and work with his girlfriend so they are together pretty much 24/7!

How do they make this work? Well, says Zak, it’s not easy but:

  • We are both working towards the same goal and have similar work ethics and morals
  • We leave work at work. Our home is our sanctuary so we don’t want to 'take work home with us' – be it physically or mentally. Once we leave work mode we’ve left!
  • We have specific work functions and respect each-others roles and boundaries
  • We work in separate offices of a farm house next door to home so aren’t constantly under one another’s feet
  • We pursue our own interests outside of work which is important to have some 'me time'.

Zak said: We live in a Barn and work next door in the Farm House. We do also work from home-home. For us - flexibility is the key.

If you'd like to give us your story, please do get in touch. And before we leave this subject, you may want to read some books on relationship advice.