Business development · 14 February 2018

Entrepreneurial couples now co-own more than 1.4m UK businesses

Businesses owned by couples are likely to increase in number

The number of people going into business with their better half is on the rise in Britain, research into entrepreneurial couples has revealed.

This Valentine’s Day, a new study has found that around 1.4m UK companies are now run by couples. This figure is likely to increase – a record 11 per cent of workers now intend to launch a new business within the next year, many of which will be with their partner.

The FreeAgent research into the rise of entrepreneurial couples found that women benefit most from starting a business with their partner.

According to the study, women earn around 27 per cent more on average after launching a venture with their other half. In relationships where only one partner is an entrepreneur, women were found to earn 33 per cent less than those in entrepreneurial couples.

FreeAgent’s CEO and co-founder, Ed Molyneux, said that while it’s not a decision to jump into lightly, starting a business with your partner could be a hugely rewarding career move for many.

He added: “Running a business together is potentially a great move for couples to make with their careers. It offers people the flexibility to co-ordinate work around family commitments, share their passion with their other half and have all of your household and business finances in one place.

The growing number of entrepreneurial couples in Britain is part of the wider trend towards more family-owned businesses. The study found that there are now 4.7m family-run businesses in the UK, of which 1.4m are run by couples.
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Molyneux went on to say: “It’s clear that a significant number of working Brits are considering taking this leap into self-employment in 2018.

“For open-minded couples looking to make a change this year, you could enjoy significant benefits from starting a business with your partner.”

Three entrepreneurial couples reveal what it’s like to work with your partner  

Husband and wife team Justin and Sadie married in 2003 and have two children. They went into business together in 2007, co-running web design company Glassraven. In 2010, the family relocated to the countryside town of Sennen, in Cornwall.

Sadie said that co-owning a business with Justin had given them greater flexibility, both in terms of where they wanted their family life and where their business was located.

She added: “We’re no longer restricted to just a few weeks of set holiday time for our family because we can take our laptop away with us to work.

“That means we can do things like take a five-week family camping trip around Europe, which we did a few summers ago. With mobile roaming, it’s easy for us to keep in touch with our customers and work on any support issues that come in whilst we’re away!”

Miranda Roberts and Stefan Buschbeck have been a couple for five and a half years. Together they founded Shrimpy, a seafood-themed pop up, with just £1,000 in savings.

On working with her boyfriend, Roberst said: “The challenges are that it can take over your entire relationship. “[The business] is like your baby so, if you’re not careful, it’s all you talk about and it’s all you do.

“We’re now much better at switching off and focusing on other things in our spare time. The benefits are that you get to work with your best friend every day – we have such a laugh.”

Florence and James Kennedy both run their own businesses, however they are both heavily involved in each other’s. Whilst James  runs London bike company Kennedy City Bicycles, Florence runs Petalon, which delivers flowers around the capital by bicycle.

“James’s strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa, so I think we both feel supported in our work without conflict of ideas or similar,” said Florence. “As we both have our own business that is ours, but are heavily involved in the other’s it’s a really nice mix.”

Read more: Four steps to rekindling the love for your business bookkeeping

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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