When it comes to life as a couple, many of us can relate to arguments over the toilet seat being left up, dirty dishes on the counter, or who’s remembered (or not remembered) to pay the electricity bill.
So imagine throwing in hiring and firing, next year’s financial projections, or whether to drop that tricky client into the mix.
Then imagine growing that business while locked down together.
Yeah, it’s enough to give us heart palps too.
However, running a business as a duo is rapidly becoming a reality for more and more couples up and down the UK. A recent survey conducted by Option Matters found that 24% of people are more likely to start a business with their other half since Covid – but why?
Well, HuffPost UK spoke to three couples who have started a business together and lived to tell the tale.
Eilidh Cunningham, Head of Brand, and Andrew Flynn, Head Designer, at POTR, creators of the world’s first eco-friendly, origami self-watering flat pack plant pot.
After being together for 12 years, Eilidh Andrew now run the company together. Despite the pressures of running a business in the mix, their relationship hasn’t wilted prematurely – they got married last month.
“We have been very lucky that our skill sets have complemented each other – Andy as a product designer and me as a Marketing Manager and Retail Specialist,” said Eilidh who previously worked alongside Andy at Dyson.
“Over the years, Andy was always keen to launch a product himself via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, finally getting round to doing this in 2019.”
“After its success, Eilidh organically became involved and started to advise on the marketing and commercial aspects of making the ‘side hustle’ a reality,” said Andrew. “The rest is history.”
“What’s made everything a success is the level of transparency and honesty between us. If there is something that we disagree about professionally, I think we can often solve it quicker than you would in a ‘normal’ work environment as we cut straight to the point,” Andrew adds.
“It’s also a safe space to talk about your strengths and weaknesses without feeling too self-conscious about what someone else might think, which can be really refreshing”, said Eilidh.
“If there is something we feel needs development, we’ll encourage each other to upskill and try something new, in the knowledge you have your biggest cheerleader supporting you.”
Gregor and Scarlett Hollerin, co-founders of Story Shop, a PR and marketing agency based in Glasgow which works with clients across the UK. They’ve been together for ten years, and started their company days before lockdown.
“Before starting Story Shop, I worked in an agency and Scarlett worked in-house,” said Gregor. “We both went freelance at the end of 2019, and decided to launch Story Shop – just a few days before lockdown was announced. The company was borne out of all the conversations we had back when we were in full-time jobs about the challenges of agencies with perspectives from both sides.”
In the three years since starting the business, they’ve had two children – Miles who is two-years-old and Sasha who was born in October last year.
“Starting a family has helped to create separation as there’s no “free” time – we’re either looking after our children or the business!” said Scarlett. “We’ve clearly defined our responsibilities; we both know we’re striving for the same things – a healthy family and a healthy business and we’ll support each other to make sure both happen.”
Beth and Andrew Archibald, owners of Coed Mawr Hall & Cottages, a Bed and Breakfast in Conwy, North Wales. They met while at the University of Glasgow and have been together for 18 years.
“We were working separately in London but wanted to start a project together. Some of our family friends suggested we come and train up with them at their hotel as they needed new managers,” said Beth. “We leapt at the chance and started working together as colleagues. In retrospect this was the ideal way to assess whether working together was as good in practice as it was in theory!”
After a year, they felt ready to go it alone and started their own bed and breakfast – and have been happily running it for nine years.
“It’s a struggle to keep a work life balance,” said Andrew. “Running a bed and breakfast means our family is quite immersed in the business. Guests come and go all day and our children even help us with breakfast. We obviously take days off and we do have a separate living area, but I’d say it’s more that the business has become a part of our lives that we enjoy sharing. We never feel like it gets in the way.”