Posted: Mon 8th Feb 2021
We got hot under the collar when Enterprise Nation research revealed that despite the trials and tribulations of the past year, start-up rates increased in 2020 - while one in five adults want to start a business in the year ahead.
A study conducted back in 2017 by FreeAgent, meanwhile, estimated that 1.4m couples run businesses together in the UK - and it wouldn't be a wild assumption to predict that this figure would now be considerably higher, with millions of couples stuck in isolation together and hatching ideas.
Whilst Cupid polishes off his bow ahead of Valentine's Day, we meet couples in the Enterprise Nation community who have co-founded a business with their significant other.
'We have completely different brains'
Lucy said: "Hadrien and I have completely different brains. There are quite obvious ways we support each - as creative director Hadrien supports me visually by bringing my words and content to life. I have a slightly more strategic brain so I'm doing slightly less sexy things like spreadsheets and forecasting. I also naturally, as the head of PR side, tend to lead on marketing, promotion and communications.
"My top tip for others running businesses with their significant others is to find yourself a virtual/executive assistant. It is much cheaper than the cost of relationship counselling and it helps to have a mediator. So, when you are debating the size of font/colour on your brochure, someone else can come in and mop it all up within 10 seconds!"
'My partner reminds me that competency doesn't just come from experience'
Elisha Rai, the co-founder of folc, launched an English rosé beverage business with her partner in April last year. Their refreshingly English craft wine is a must for any Valentine**'s Day plans!**
Elisha said: "We started last year in April 2020 and the business has continued to grow from strength to strength. I had a problem with imposter syndrome. I felt like I wasn't experienced enough, qualified enough, or deserving enough to launch a business or have others see folc as a guide in the English wine movement.
"My partner Tom has continued to remind me that competency doesn't just come from knowledge, but from empathy with our customer base and trying to genuinely understand and solve a problem for them.
"A recommendation of mine to help other small business owners expand their network is - firstly, Enterprise Nation is a great platform for anyone with just a business idea, to someone who has a fully scaled business.
"I would also recommend looking at relevant communities on Facebook and within Enterprise Nation Groups. Connections can also be made on Instagram. There is a whole host of support out there and there will always be someone who has been in your shoes before. You don't have to do it solo!"
'Turn your joint passions into a business'
Nina said: "We love trips to the theatre and big walks in the countryside, so it seemed natural to turn those things into a blog. When running a business, you need to recognise your own strengths so with me being a photographer and Dan a journalist, bringing together our love of words and pictures is the perfect combination! Running the blog together is a lovely way to record our adventures. If you're a couple, we'd highly recommend looking at how you can turn your joint passions into a business.
"Dan is also really supportive with Bristol in a Box (and not just taking my orders to the Post Office!). He keeps me motivated and it's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off. He's also there to pick me up when things don't go my way and is ready to open a bottle of something to celebrate my wins."
'We launched in lockdown'
Founded by husbands Charlie & Dan Wilson-Vaughan, EXALT helps people with busy lifestyles maintain a healthy diet with its freshly made, sustainably sourced high-protein smoothies and cold-pressed juice (with are supercharged with natural supplements, no less). Launched in August 2020 and based in east London, EXALT**'s products are** sold directly online and via Selfridges, Planet Organic & Farmdrop.
Charlie said: "We spent most of early 2020 in our own sort of lockdown while setting up the business sat across the kitchen table from each other. It has brought us closer in many ways as you are attracted to aspects of the other's personality that you wouldn't normally be privy to. We are both control freaks, but with very similar tastes and views so it has been really easy to delegate. I normally play 'good cop' and I bring Dan in when we've needed to share a stern word - which has been really helpful in creating successful relationships with suppliers.
"On the occasions we do fall out, it's mostly about me being messy around the house - so my biggest tip for business success is: hire a good cleaner!"
And last but not least, it would be amiss of us to not tap into the expertise of Enterprise Nation adviser member and founder of Couplepreneurs, Patricia Bacon. It's often questioned whether mixing business with pleasure is a wise decision, so let's get some top tips from Patricia on how to make it work.
1) Be good planners, resilient and brave - all at once
"Whilst you can build resilience, you will need it in bucket loads when starting out and at various growth points throughout your journey. This includes planning so you have enough financial runway and a very clear agreement on what your expenditure (both business and personal) will look like when you start out. If there's no external income it can be very stressful for a couple knowing that there is no plan B."
2) Be prepared to be 'all in'. After all, you are stronger together
"Couplepreneurs are inspirational in the strength that they have in running a business together. It is very real, open, honest, fun and genuine. And it can be all encompassing so the support you give to each other will be enormous. But beware; it's important to know that being a couplepreneur is not for everyone. Often, friends and family just cannot comprehend the idea of this and won't hold back in telling you they think you're crazy doing it."
3) Be clear around your roles
"Ensure you know one another's strengths from the outset and the roles you will play in the business. Creating job specs and defining the roles is highly recommended. This is a new way of working for so many couples and important to define. It also means it's clearly defined for new recruits as the business grows. Assessing what other skills you need to bring in as you grow is vital, and buying in that expertise in bite-size chunks can often accelerate growth."