Valentines: Charlotte Area Couple Tells How They Work Together and Keep the Love

Pam and Jim Halpert from The Office make working together look like a cinch. But in reality, working with your spouse is generally not so simple. While many grapple with the question of whether spouses can run a business together and still stay married, some local business partners have reached the conclusion that despite being difficult at times, this arrangement works for them and can be successful and healthy for relationships. Here are their tips on how to utilize each other’s strengths and weaknesses while working and sleeping side-by-side.

Divide and Conquer:

Mike and Catriona Harris started and run a public relations and social media agency. After deciding to start a new company together, the two picked up their lives in San Francisco to start a new chapter. The husband and wife duo manage a household of two children under 5, full-time positions with one company and expanding the new company together while learning tricks and tips on how to stay sane along the way. First and foremost, they advise couples planning on going into business together to distribute the work and trust in the spouse’s ability.

“You can’t be your spouse’s boss and your spouse can’t be your boss,” Mike says. “I work on brining in new clients while Catriona focuses on servicing them and managing the teams. While sometimes those blend together, we both know our roles. You’ve got to be able to manage your own thing.”

Carve out time for individuality:

John and Diane Mahony (in photo) have been married over 12 years after meeting through her sororities’ functions at the University of Central Florida. She acts as the CEO and he the COO of their national staffing firm Kavaliro with offices in Charlotte. Through hard work and dedication, the two have brought their local staffing agency from a $1.5 million company in 2009 to a nearly $12 million national company in 2011. With years of experience balancing home life and work life, the two believe having outside, independent time is the key to a successful, happy marriage and business.

“John sometimes has a hard time leaving work at the office,” Diane says, “but we have very open communication in our relationship and when it becomes an issue, we talk about it and make a conscious effort to spend more time as a couple rather than coworkers.”

John adds, “We each have our own things that we like to do individually. She plays tennis and enjoys spending time with her friends, while I am a die-hard Bucs and UCF fan. I would recommend working together as long as you have a strong commitment to keeping work and home life separate.”
Set Aside Business-Free Time:

“When you spend all day together, you don’t need to go over your workday nuances,” Catriona says. “When I need an afternoon to myself to go get a manicure or just be by myself, Mike takes the kids. If he wants an afternoon to ride his bike, I make sure he has that time.”

Both couples agree it’s all about balancing. They advise partners looking to go into business together to be flexible, courteous and respectful.