Sometimes, Alicia and Rob Beers talk about work at home, but they try to limit it.
“At the end of the day, if we’re having a glass of wine and discussing work, one of us might say, ‘OK, let’s stop talking about work,’ and we just stop,” Alicia Beers said.
Together they run Hand & Stone spa in Kissimmee, and they also help to open and support 27 other locations of the franchise.
The couple, both 46, started the spa in 2008, amid the economic meltdown. Alicia unexpectedly lost her job with a software company in a mass layoff, just a few days after the spa opened.
“It was kind of exciting actually,” said Rob Beers. “In a sense it drew us a bit closer. We have this business in common, and we nurture it.”
The Beerses, married 18 years,and other married couples in business together say a good understanding of each other’s role in the business, and willingness to set boundaries between career and home, is vital to making the marriage and the business work. With that level of understanding, several couples said working together strengthens their relationship.
Marie and Leighton Chin-See of Orlando, who have been married 28 years, are newer to running a business together. They launched a franchise location for Honest-1 Auto Care on South Semoran Boulevard about a year ago. She still works weekends as a registered nurse and sometimes works from home during the week on marketing the repair shop.
But Leighton Chin-See says they are “not a conventional couple” partly because they met while serving in the military in the same squadron. On paper, he is the president and Marie is the vice president, but he said the titles “go out the door” sometimes.
Although they both said the business makes their relationship stronger, they acknowledged a strain at times.
“Yes, for me, I get home at 8 p.m., I’m trying to decompress and she has 50 questions coming at me,” Leighton said.
“It has been a strain,” Marie said. “We’ve had to make adjustments on how we work. He does the hiring, but we go over resumes together and usually come to agreement on that.”
Research supports the idea that working together can strengthen a relationship and work life, according to a 2015 study. Published in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, the study found couples with the same occupations or work places may have a happier family life and less job and family tension as a result of the work-related support they can offer one another.
“Not only does this benefit employees’ personal lives, but they become more productive at work,” said Merideth Ferguson, study author and associate professor of business at Utah State University. “This research suggests that both families and employers stand to gain a significant benefit.”
But the study also pointed out the downside for couples – the boundary between work and home can get blurred, which allows work-related information to be more freely shared but which also might make balancing work and family more challenging, Ferguson said.
Franchises are a popular option for couples starting a business. According to the U.S. Economic Census, 24.4 percent of franchised businesses were jointly owned by male-female couples, compared with 18.2 percent of non-franchised businesses.
“Franchise ownership can be a match made in heaven for many American couples seeking to share the entrepreneurial spirit,” said Matthew Haller, a senior VP of public affairs for the International Franchise Association.
It’s no different for same-sex couples. Dawn Callio and Lisa Brown have been a couple for 20 years and started a marketing firm, Bowled Over Promotions, about 11 years ago.
Lisa, 57, said it took three or four years before they decided work needs to shut off completely in the evenings and on weekends – with exceptions for really busy periods.
They had titles for a while, but eventually dropped them, and focused on what each one does better. Lisa handles the marketing and sales, while Dawn does the books and paperwork.
“We work well together, but you do have to be mindful of separating work from everything else. Otherwise you’re talking about business too much,” said Callio, 48.
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