Husband and Wife Entrepreneurs
Happily married and running a business? It's possible! We discuss the secrets to building a thriving business and maintaining a healthy marriage.
It's tough enough to be married and stay married these days.
Now imagine being married and running a business together.
Luke and Maisie Knowles are a good example of a dynamic duo that know how to combine work life and home life as husband-and-wife entrepreneurs.
This talented couple co-founded FreeShipping.org, a one-stop destination for consumers to find online retailers that offer free shipping deals.
They've managed to do well with the business, despite having an added challenge and benefit that most husband-and-wife entrepreneurs don't share. They work from a home office - side by side - just a few feet away from each other. And they have an infant daughter, Isabelle.
"We have friends who are married and work from home, but they have offices in two separate bedrooms," Maisie Knowles said with a grin. "Luke and I find it more productive to work in the same room because when we need to ask each other a question, all we have to do is speak up. That way, we don't have to keep getting up and walking back and forth."
Concocting the ideal recipe to combine a thriving business and a successful marriage is not easy, Luke and Maisie agree, especially when you work together at home, but it can be done with understanding.
"As a married couple, when you move from conventional office jobs to working together in your own business, you go from not having much time together to being around each other most of the day everyday," Luke said. "It can be a challenge to define life as husband and wife, and life as business partners, because it's hard to separate the two. Still, we would rather work together in our own business than go our separate ways in the morning working for someone else."
This is not their first company. Before launching FreeShipping.org, Luke and Maisie started Kinoli, an interactive design company. Maisie left a full-time office job to help get the company off the ground and Luke joined her full time a year later. The couple debuted FreeShipping.org last December. The site includes more than 800 name-brand stores such as JCPenney, Target, Bloomingdale's, Kohl's, Sears, Best Buy, Old Navy, Nordstrom and Macy's.
"We reached a point in our careers where we felt that it would be better to invest our knowledge and abilities in our own business than for someone else," Luke explained. "That is a risky step. If you want to work for yourself, though, it's a step you must take."
Working together from a home office saves Luke and Maisie time, money (since they do not have a commute) and the aggravation of being stuck in traffic. They also do not need to pay for child care and have more family time.
"Typically, one spouse remains at home with the child while the other works long hours and doesn't spend as much time with the family as he or she would like," Maisie said. "I am able to continue working while caring for Isabelle, and Luke is able to spend more time with us."
According to Luke and Maisie, husband-and-wife entrepreneurs must love their partner and love their work to have a healthy business and marriage.
Here are some other tips from them for married couples who are thinking about opening a home-based business:
Establish "Me Time" If You Can
As husband and wife, and business partners, you spend much of your time together. Because of this, it is beneficial to schedule time for yourself.
"Couples who work traditional office jobs just share a few tidbits about their work day when they get home," Maisie said. "When you work together - and out of a home office - your business occupies a tremendous part of your life."
"It's important to take time for yourself and away from each other," Maisie added. "Take the dog to the park. Go to the gym. 'Me' time is valuable for both the husband and the wife."
Set "Couples Time" Away From Work
When you are married and building a business outside of your house, it is difficult to leave work at the office. That issue is compounded when the office is a converted spare bedroom at home.
"It is ideal to set office hours and stick to them. Sometimes that is difficult, especially when you work at home, but it is good for your mental well-being," Luke said. "We try to take off weekends and spend them together, not talking about work. Sometimes, that is easier said than done."
Have a Plan, and Make Sure You Like Each Other
Obviously, before you start your own business, you need to have an idea you are confident will be successful. Before moving forward on that idea, make sure you are also confident enough that you will enjoy being together in a home and work relationship.
"Not every couple is suited for working together," Maisie said. "You have to respect each other's feelings and beliefs, and feel comfortable with each person's responsibilities."
Just like a typical 8-to-5 job in an office, when you work at home there are good days and bad days. Even on the worst of days, Luke and Maisie agree that they would rather work side by side shaping their own destiny than toiling in an office outside of their home."
"Simply put, we couldn't imagine working in a traditional office setting again," Luke said. "We get to spend time with each other, and our daughter, and we are working as a team to build our business."
"Working together when you are married is not for everyone," Luke added. "But for us, the pros far outweigh the cons."
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