Make us your home page
Instagram

Many couples comfortable as business partners

MIAMI — Finding work-life balance when you work together is difficult. Now add in the recession and a sour economy. Couples who work together have had to steer through some tough times that can be trying on their work and home lives.

With budgets tight, Jose Torres of Hispanic Franchise Online Corp. decided to take extreme measures. He began giving his online services away for free to big clients, calling it an introductory trial. The challenge for Torres was convincing his business partner to buy into his marketing strategy. Complicating matters, his business partner was his wife.

"She thought I was crazy," Torres said. "I had to convince her to trust me on this."

When your business partner is your spouse and economic times are tough, every decision affects your financial future and personal life. Drawing lines between the bedroom and boardroom becomes even more complex and survival more critical.

"As the economy lurches and stalls, people realize you can't wait for a job," said David Liu, co-founder and CEO of the Knot, a media company aimed at young couples. "You need to do it on your own, and they are saying, 'Why not do it with my spouse?' "

A recent survey of 1,500 newlyweds by the Knot shows 85 percent would start a business with their spouse.

About a quarter of the entrepreneurs trying to start businesses in the United States are doing so with their spouse, according to a study by Kaufmann Foundation, which funds entrepreneurship education and research. Couples were more likely than individual entrepreneurs to try longer and harder to get their businesses off the ground. "They showed more persistence," said William Forster, a Lehigh University management professor who has studied business partnerships.

A look at a few successful couples shows how they make marriage and business work when the going gets tough.

After long careers in tourism, Carlos and Carmen Segrera turned their orchid hobby into a Miami business called CS Orchids. Each has their niche: Carmen oversees corporate/home orchid leasing and orchid gift arrangements. Carlos performs maintenance on private orchid collections.

However, the recession took a toll on Carmen's side of the business, bringing it to a near halt. With time on her hands, she started going on orchid maintenance calls with Carlos. Before long, she was doing much more than helping with maintenance. She was rearranging pots and setting up displays. "I couldn't help it," Carmen said. "I'm creative. But I could tell he didn't like me to go with him."

Realizing the need to rediscover boundaries, Carmen began investigating new ways to market the company's leasing services. With the lines clearer, the couple sat down together to make tough decisions, including whether to close the warehouse where Carmen stored her supplies and bring everything back into their home. "We talked it through, tightened our belt, and decided if anything I would probably get a smaller warehouse," Carmen said.

Carlos said that after 45 years of marriage, he feels even closer to his wife after being her business partner. "We have our disagreements, but we respect each other's judgment."

Many couples in business together during trying times discover they need to step up communication, talk through differences and discuss feelings in ways that differ from how they interact in their personal relationship. It can get tricky when one spouse declines the other's advice.

In the past few years, Sandra and Jerry Foland's marriage and business partnership survived Sandra's bout with cancer, her firing of their only daughter and a months-long downturn that zapped profits at their Baron Sign Manufacturing firm.

He wanted to drop prices. She wanted to simply work longer hours. Jerry says they pulled through by hashing out differences and keeping a sense of humor. Jerry wants Sandra to relax more, but he accepts it is not her nature. "We went on a cruise for seven days for our 40th anniversary. By the end of the cruise, she had drummed up business."

Recently, though, Sandra's 24/7 business focus wasn't enough. Jerry said they had to communicate in a whole new way when profits eroded, staying completely open to the other's ideas. "Over dinner we made a list of every industry that would have money during a recession, and we marketed to those. We also dropped prices, which was a huge risk. It worked because we were aligned in our strategy."

Most couple-owned businesses start at home, making it critical that heated discussions stay in the home office, work hours are defined, and separation exists.

The Torreses, whose media company operates BuscaTuFranquicia.com, a Spanish-language online marketplace, have a business plan that clarifies work and personal roles. When Anisa steps out of the home office, she's back to being mom to their children. If a business call happens after hours, Jose takes it.

The couple tries to avoid shop talk at the dinner table.

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life.

Considering going into business with your spouse?

• Make a business plan.

• Identify each other's talents.

• Define ways to problem-solve together.

• Come up with an agreed upon level of risk.

• Assign business roles and priorities.

Source: SCORE Miami-Dade

Many couples comfortable as business partners 08/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 27, 2010 2:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]