Married since: 2011
Co-business owners since: 2010
Employees: 19 total
The secret to making it work: “We’re both creatives and headstrong Leos, so a 50/50 business arrangement probably wouldn’t have been the best idea. So we each play a role in the other’s business knowing that the other person has the final say and control of their entrepreneurial pursuit. We also understand that we each have different strengths and we respect and admire that. Anchyi has an amazing eye for aesthetics plus strong design skills; while I come from a publishing background so content and copy are my forte. In this way, we are each other’s best cheerleader and strongest advocate, but in a setup that doesn’t allow pride or our needs for control to get in the way.
Basically, we each work for each other. For example, at ArtJamz, I’m the owner but Anchyi is the creative director and has a small percentage. For Anchyi Wei LLC, Anchyi is the owner and designs all her jewelry pieces but I help create content and provide input on social media and back-end business processes. Although, I keep asking if she’ll let me design a jewelry line someday — she says I get to keep bringing the trash out.” — Michael
Hayes and Jenn Davis, owners of Union Metrics in San Francisco, Calif.
Married since: 2003
Co-business owners since: 2008
The secret to making it all work: “The secret is that there is no secret. This is hard and we bust our butts every single day to make it work. We met in high school, so we’ve been together for 15 years, which is somewhat unusual in our peer group in San Francisco. So a lot of what we’ve learned about running our startup together, we’ve figured out through the often messy process of trying something, and then the next time, doing it better.
One of the best things we’ve done is hire smart, talented people we trust. That takes a lot of pressure off us and means we get to relax every now and then. We’re very lucky to have such a great team. We also try to do normal couple things outside work, like going for a run in the morning, sitting down for a cup of coffee before heading into the office, and grabbing drinks after a long day. But most of all, this is just really important to us. We love working and building our company together. There is nothing more challenging and more rewarding than running a business, and it’s pretty incredible that we get to experience it side by side.” — Hayes and Jenn
Don and Lani Dolifka, owners of Watermill Express, LLC in Brighton, Colo.
Married since: 1985
Co-business owners since: 1984
The secret to making it work: “It is extremely challenging to simultaneously build a family and business with your spouse. We started at a young age and learned the hard way that everything is a compromise — at work, at home and in between, there is always a sense of compromise given that work is never too far away. It’s also been hard on our staff at times trying to figure out who to go to with problems.
The good news is that everything turned out okay after making every mistake possible over the last 28 years, in both family and business. At work, we know to stay out of each other’s business. Our biggest disagreements, it turned out, were over which road to take to get us to the same place. Once we realized that, we weren’t as critical of each other’s preferences for how to get there.” — Don and Lani
Kurt and Kerri Ritter, owners of Saxbys Coffee locations in Springboro and Centerville, Ohio
Married since: 1993
Co-business owners since: 2006
The secret to making it work: “The secret is simple: Whatever the wife says is right! Seriously, similar to the way opposites attract in relationships, we have found this to hold true as we approach our business. Kerri is very detailed oriented and focuses on all the finer details, especially those little things that make our shop, products, and overall experience special and unique.
Conversely, my focus is on functionality and bottom-line dollars (for example, is it easy, and does it maximize profitability?), and the right solution is generally one that blends both those elements together. We recognize these differences in each other’s approach and leverage them accordingly (although it did take us a few years and several arguments to come to this revelation). More importantly, we share several core values; namely, that customer service must always be a priority, our employees are our greatest asset, failure is not an option, and success only comes when our efforts with the business are in balance with our family and our faith.” — Kurt