5 December 2013
Earlier this week, I spoke with the BBC about UKFast, and one of the questions I was asked was about going into business with family members. Should you do it? What should you consider? Is it an advantage or a disadvantage?
Personally, I think the advantage I have being married to my business partner is the closeness we have. We have lots of time together to bounce ideas off one another. You might argue that this is dangerous as you could end up overdoing it and letting the business consume your life but Gail and I have that discipline in place to give us that switch off time, whether that’s together or individually.
Having said that, it might not work for everyone – not all couples can set up a business together. My parents for example. They set up a hotel in Llandudno when I was nineteen and it did very well but they liked to argue at times. On the other hand, they’re still together and, in my opinion, they’re a lot younger at heart and in mind than a lot of their friends. I suppose it kept them fresh.
I think the best example of an incredible husband wife team though is Fred and Elsie Dover. Fred Dover worked with his father making roller shutters, going on to supply Sainsbury’s and eventually setting up Dover’s Shutters. They’re the metal shutters you see at the back of very fire engine! Fred and Elsie were living proof that husband and wife can work together if they have a really solid relationship.
And it’s not just about sharing the successes. Whilst it’s much nicer to share something with somebody when you do well, you do need to be able to share that responsibility and burden when things don’t go so well. Having somebody there to pick you up and dust you off and say, ‘come on, you’ll be good at this’, is really important.
Ultimately, setting up a business is about being able to rely on people and who better to rely on than your partner or your family? I couldn’t do what I do without my wife, end of story. And at the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to.