Business development · 14 February 2017

Three couples reveal what it’s like to start a business together

Florence and James Kennedy run Petalon

With Valentine’s Day upon us, new statistics have revealed more and more couples are taking the leap and choosing to start a business together.

As many as 1.4m businesses are now run by couples in the UK, with that number likely to increase in the coming years in line with the overall number of self-employed, a study from FreeAgent has found.

One in ten people in Britain’s workforce intend to start their own venture within the next 12 months, some of which are highly likely to be with their partners.

According to the research, women are more likely to benefit from being one part of a so-called “copreneur” couple than men, earning on average 27 per cent more than before their business was launched.

The study revealed that in relationships where just one partner was an entrepreneur, women earned 33 per cent less than in a “copreneur” couple, where partners collectively own their company and start a business together.

Although starting a business with your partner could have many potential advantages, Ed Molyneux, FreeAgent’s CEO and co-founder, warned couples it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

“There are some who will always prefer to keep their careers and their personal lives separate. But for open-minded couples looking to make a change this year, you could enjoy significant benefits from becoming ‘copreneurs’,” he said.

“It’s a potentially great move for couples to make with their careers – as you’ll be able to co-ordinate your work around your family commitments, share your passion with your soul-mate and have all of your household and business finances in one place.”

What’s it like to start a business together? Three couples reveal all

(1) Boutique flower delivery service Petalon

Florence and James Kennedy have been together for eight years. James runs Kennedy City Bicycles, a bike making business he founded in 2012, while Florence runs Petalon, delivering flowers to Londoners by bicycle.

Both operate their individual businesses, but are heavily involved in each other’s, because they rely on each other for clients.

“I know it might sound strange, but living and working together has never been an issue,” revealed Florence.

“We had a period of about eight months when our workshops were separate and it just wasn’t nearly as fun. Now we are back in the same workshop, with a small team and it works really well.”

She added: “Valentine’s Day is a bit of a non-event in our personal lives and a logistical masterpiece for work! We will celebrate once all ordered have been completed and we are sure all the deliveries have been successfully delivered!”

(2) Seafood themed London pop-up Shrimpy

Miranda Roberts and Stefan Buschbeck have been together for five and a half years and set up Shrimpy, a seafood themed pop-up, with just £1,000 in savings to follow their dream.

Commenting on her copreneur experience, Miranda said: “I think it’s really important that you both bring different skills to the table otherwise you end up competing with each other.

“After that it’s all just about respect for each other. Making one another laugh in difficult situations is a must too! For Valentine’s Day it’ll be business as usual. We will probably have a nice dinner somewhere but nothing too exciting.”

(3) Cornwall-based web design company Glassraven

Justin and Sadie married in 2003 and have two children. They live and work from home near Sennen in Cornwall.

In 2002, Sadie setup Glassraven to combine her passion for online with the demands of having a young family. Justin then joined her in 2007 after years working for a software development company. The couple relocated to Cornwall in 2010.

Describing the experience working together and running their own web-based company from home, Sadie said: “It’s given us massive flexibility, both in terms of where we live and with our family life.

“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. A few summers ago, we took a five-week family camping trip around Europe.

“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.”

Valentine’s Day spending spree set to lift independent shops and restaurants.

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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.