One of the biggest career decisions a person can make is to become a small business owner. In fact, it isn’t simply a career decision but a major life decision. With so much preparation, research, time, and money invested to make the giant leap, the risk is too great for many would-be entrepreneurs. Now, imagine making the commitment to dive into the world of business ownership…with your spouse.
Talk about a list of pros and cons! We caught up with some successful TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchisee couples to learn the secrets of business – and marital bliss.
Brooke & Les Wilson
Franchisees Brooke and Les Wilson have been running successful franchises and growing their business portfolio for 10 years. They now operate nine offices across Maryland, DC, North Carolina, and Georgia.
It’s no secret that managing both a marriage and a thriving business is naturally filled with both high and low points. The Wilsons agreed that finding the balance was a significant challenge. Brooke recollects, “The first year was hard. We had to define roles and recognize we couldn’t each independently be responsible for everything. We were creating more work for ourselves. Though we often would arrive at the same conclusion, we didn’t always work to the result in the same way or at the same cadence, and this caused conflict.”
In addition to defining roles and responsibilities, they had to learn to leave work at work and dedicate personal time outside of work. In marriages where a joint business venture does not exist, couples come home after a long work day and vent to their spouse; however, a business partnership impacts a personal connection to the venting and fuels more than often intended.
Rene & Dan Shunk
Another successful TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® married couple is Rene and Dan Shunk who are multi-unit franchisees. They have been successfully growing their Illinois TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® business for six years while raising two small children. Rene admits finding the balance was a challenge early on for the couple. “Of course we had the usual business challenges, but achieving balance is the biggest challenge by far. It is very easy to work 24/7 when you both work together in your own business. You have to find ways to shut off the work side and focus on the family, personal, and couple side of life.”
Building business together for both couples has also afforded unexpected rewards. They have learned to harness individual strengths and build business roles around those skills – and ultimately learning more about one another than imagined. Additionally, there is no boss from whom to request time off, so when it is time to enjoy some much-deserved vacation time, they plan to have the day-to-day operations of the business handled while appreciating time away.
Considering going into business with your beloved? Here are three questions couples should ask before going into business together:
1. What are your individual strengths and weaknesses, and how will that play into your work roles?
Set yourselves up for success by honestly putting your weaknesses on the table and build your individual business roles and responsibilities based on your core strengths. This isn’t easy or fun, but the exercise is worth the investment. The more outgoing partner is going to be bitter if stuck inside four walls crunching numbers all day.
2. How do you divide the work at home, and will those roles change?
It is easy to imagine how life will be once you are running a business together, but reality can be altogether different. There are still responsibilities at home; the trash needs taken out, groceries need bought, and kids need baths. It is helpful to have a plan, even in writing, dividing the work at home, as well as the office.
3. What are your expectations for how you will interact with each other and your employees?
Determining how both partners can earn respect from employees while maximizing influence is important to think about. Do you want to be called by your first name as opposed to informal, affectionate names used at home? Team members may find it hard to take the business owner seriously when always being called “sugar bear” by their spouse.
So, yes, building a successful business and marriage is possible with a lot of communication and hard work! Brooke shares one more piece of valuable advice for couples considering a joint business venture: “Leave work at the office. Don’t bring it home.” She adds in with a smile, “And, buy multiple franchises, so when you have had enough of each other, you can visit another office for a break.”
For information on starting your own TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise location and to access performance information which is available to prospective owners click here.