In today’s flaky dating climate, there’s something particularly awe-inspiring about couples who have committed to starting businesses together. While so many of us are just hoping our partner texts us back in a reasonable amount of time, these duos are nurturing a shared vision, creating something new for the world, and voluntarily spending pretty much all of their waking (and sleeping) hours together. What could be more romantic?
Well, as you can probably imagine, it’s not all million-dollar ideas and summer Fridays. Anyone who’s ever mixed love and commerce will tell you that building a biz with your S.O. requires a ton of self-awareness, super-sharp communication skills, and a fierce commitment to prioritizing date nights when spreadsheets and emails beckon. But for many couples who do it, working together proves to be a bonding experience like no other. “Everything we’re doing is new to us, and there’s a lot of learning and correcting and learning again,” says Lizzie Brown, who co-founded the yoga alarm-clock app Yoga Wake Up with her husband, Joaquin. “So sometimes, we spend hours on end just brainstorming and dreaming about where the [business] will go.”
Plus, some say that pursuing your passion alongside your partner can provide a special kind of rocket fuel for the business itself. “We truly believe that couples who work together accomplish their goals 10 times faster—and also strengthen their relationship in the process,” says Taylor Norris, who launched Los Angeles-based fitness studio LIT Method with her husband, Justin, before they were married.
But what if the thought of sharing an office with your main hang makes you feel claustrophobic? First, know that it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your union itself—doing the nine-to-five thing together isn’t for everyone. Still, there are lots of lessons to be learned from entrepreneurial power couples, regardless of whether you and bae are on the same payroll. Here, seven pairs of wellness-industry founders share their own nuggets of wisdom, all of which can up-level any relationship.
Keep reading for seriously good relationship advice from entrepreneurial power couples.
Don’t forget about who you are as a couple—and as individuals
“Dinners, date nights, travel—all of this is important to us so we can continue to remind ourselves that we’re first and foremost husband and wife. We just happen to have an amazing work relationship, too. Plus, my husband has other businesses of his own that I’m not involved in on a day-to-day level. I think it helps not being full-time partners.” —Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, co-founder/CEO of self-care haven Chillhouse, with Adam Fulton, co-founder
Know what you’re good at, and own it in the relationship
“What has really worked for us is what we call ‘staying in your own lane.’ We have identified what our strengths are and we focus on those specifically. There are certain aspects of the business that we both contribute on equally, but for the most part, we work best when we divide and conquer.”—Taylor and Justin Norris, co-founders of LIT Method
Always communicate with respect (even when you’re super stressed)
“The main things we’ve learned from starting a business together? Respect. Communication. Listening. Conflict arrives inevitably, so its really important to come to each other from a place of respect when you’re under duress. If you let the stress speak for you, you’ll most likely say things you regret. Communication is key to navigating through the rough spots, and listening to your partner—really listening—can get you out of your head and shift your perspective.” —Jasmine Shimoda and Sharky McGee, chef and manager of Jewel restaurant in Los Angeles
Don’t bring work talk home with you every night…
“[We were] all about having work conversations at work, and if something like that did come up after we got home, we tackle it in the morning. We found it gets really messy when you start bringing work issues into the home—you could be talking about sending an email, and then all the sudden it turns into an argument about laundry. And ultimately, it doesn’t always work for someone. Mason is no longer day-to-day at Y7, and has started his own company. It has done WONDERS for our relationship.” —Sarah Levey with Mason Levey, co-founders of Y7 Studio yoga
…Or *do* talk shop after-hours, if you find it brings you closer
“We both really love what we do. We are passionate about LEKFit and how the business is growing, so in many ways, working together has brought us closer together. We often work on different aspects of the business, so it’s exciting to come back and share what we’re both up to. We’re almost always happy to talk shop while enjoying our weekly date nights or regular (childless) trips to Cabo. The experience of major highs and deep lows is a given in business, but going through it with your life partner can be extremely rewarding.”—Lauren Kleban and John Tomich, founder and CEO of boutique fitness brand LEKFit
Use self care as a relationship tool
“Whenever we have a conflict that we need to find a solution for, we usually end up going on a long power walk. The bigger the problem, the longer the walk. It seems like the combination of moving our bodies and getting lots of fresh air helps clear our heads, and we always come up with more effective and more reasonable solutions. Of course, sleep is also incredibly crucial. If either of us is feeling overwhelmed about any kind of issue, we remind ourselves to sleep on it and tackle it in the morning instead.”—Laura Xiao and Johan Axelqvist, co-founders of Henné Organics
Understand the importance of compromise
“In this instance, it’s even more important to come up with win-win compromises instead of lose-win like you may come up with in a more traditional business setting. You want both of you to feel good about issues that arise and the resolutions you come up with together. Remember that this is someone that you are going to spend the rest of your life with, and there are some issues that trump the business decisions. Choosing softness and loving energy is more important, in many cases, than getting that one last deadline in—it can wait.” —Sophie and Adi Jaffe, co-founders of personal-growth workshop series IGNTD
Never leave important things unsaid
“Be clear about your goals and roles up-front. When you hear about partnerships of any kind splitting up, it’s often because they wanted different things. We have a really strong shared vision with Yoga Wake Up.”—Joaquin Brown, co-founder and CTO of Yoga Wake Up
“We also are always open and honest with each other. We have a marriage motto—it’s from a song by 10,000 Maniacs called “Trouble Me,” and it basically means: Don’t leave me in the dark on the bad stuff. If you make a mistake or if you’re worried about something or if something is broken, as hard as it may be, full disclosure is always best. I think the same goes for business. When in doubt, get it out. You can’t fix what you don’t know about.” —Lizzie Brown, co-founder and CEO of Yoga Wake Up
Before you start a business with your S.O., you may consider moving in together first—here’s how to know if you’re ready. Haven’t even had the DTR talk yet? We’ve got you.
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