Couples Who Reinvent

Would you—could you—work 24/7 with your husband? These women all launched companies with their mates and, incidentally, enriched their marriages

by Jennifer Margulis
couples who start a business
“You need to have an indestructible relationship,” says Jane Hendler, who cofounded Ajne with her husband, Rex Rombach.
Photograph: Micheal Todd

Steve manages day-to-day operations at their Rye headquarters, while Laura oversees the company’s advertising and finances from a home office overlooking blossoming dahlias and a vegetable patch. “The art director in Laura has come out,” says Steve. “I didn’t know it was there.”

They’ve recouped their investment and are turning a profit, but best of all are the results: “We asked former students how they’re doing, and fewer than 10 percent said they’d had accidents the first year, ” says Laura. “I wish I’d started the business sooner. Fear of leaving the corporate nest keeps people in situations they should get out of.” 

Jennifer Margulisis a travel and culture writer who lives in Ashland, Oregon.

 

The bedroom-to-boardroom learning curve

Rex: “Never talk business in the bedroom. Choose calm moments to approach problems. I try to remember that my job is to listen when Jane’s upset, not jump in to fix the problem. Agree on your goals but don’t waste time, morale and energy nitpicking every step.”

Jane: “Do what brings you the most fulfillment and passion, then stay out of each other’s day-to-day area except for planning meetings. Be thoughtful in your words and actions. You can’t take them back. Honor your relationship above your work.”

Todd: “You’d better like each other, because working together will test your relationship. The normal filters that exist in a work environment aren’t there between intimate partners. Regardless of who made the mistake or caused the problem, take the position that these issues are yours to solve together.This can become a relationship builder.”

PAM: “Never blame the other
for things that go wrong. If you’re simmering over a personalconflict, one of you should stay home. Don’t take your tension into the office. Also, it helps to really love what you’re doing. If we didn’t, we would have failed a long time ago.”

Laura: “If your relationship is solid, there’s very little downside to going into business together, and the possible rewards are great. Make sure you have a good idea to start with and twice the capital you think you’ll need to get the business off the ground.”

Steve: “Respect each other’s skill sets. For example, Laura is the idea generator, and I’m the salesperson. Set clear boundaries about when and when not to talk about work.”

 

This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of More.

Read more reinvention stories here: Small Changes, Big Results.

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First Published January 3, 2012

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