DiscoverCoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun & Profit
CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun & Profit
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CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun & Profit

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Is building a business with your spouse the best thing ever--or the craziest? Or both? How do other couples do it? We interview successful couples who are crushing it and ask them everything from how they met to how they do it to how they argue. Whether you're working with your significant other, just thinking about it, or just like modeling other successful business owners, welcome to CoupleCo: Working With Your Spouse For Fun & Profit.
91 Episodes
Today, we are talking to a pair of publicans. We are in downtown Salt Lake with Michael Eccleston and Katy Willis of Quarters Arcade Bar. This is not about that place where everybody knows your name. If you ever thought about owning a bar, this is the story that might scare you away. We’re talking about everything from the kind of investor relationships that should make you very afraid, to the power of persistence that demonstrates how overnight success is years in the making. This is also our unofficial, talking each other off the ledge episode. We’re going to be examining the power of a solid brand and purposeful, intentional brand marketing. We’ll talk about the things you don’t ever want an investor to see. And this is the first CoupleCo convo that features a Zoltar machine.
We continue talking with Dave Lakhani and Sarah Skeem of digital ad agency, Growth Foundry. We discuss treating both customer and employee well, and the things in your business that marketing won’t solve. There’s an unexpected lesson from a digital agency. We talk about making clients cry. (It happens. We’ve done it at our agency, Slow Burn Marketing.) What if your marketing is the difference between your kid going to college or not? Why does hiring a marketing agency run by a committed couple have an added benefit? And, as a business owner, why is connecting on a human level so important? Hint: Marketing is about connecting with people on that level. There’s the power of story-based marketing. And how is a coupleco different from mere entrepreneurship? Plus, will your couple-owned business make you feel an even greater obligation to your spouse?
She was going to change the world by becoming a lawyer, a politician, and the first woman president. For a while, he was living life angry. At 16, he had the courage to leave a religious cult and go out on his own. Today, he’s a marketing and persuasion pro. He’s been seen on CNN and CNBC, and in magazines like Success, Entrepreneur, and Fast Company. As long as these two have been a couple, we kept wondering why they weren’t working together. Well, it happened. Dave Lakhani and Sarah Skeem finally started a business: a digital marketing agency called Growth Foundry. They wanted to build an agency that defied expectations, and it’s working. We talk couple dynamics, the conflicts in 21st century marketing, the difference between advertising a business versus growing a business. We discuss unhealthy advertising, like things that are ego driven or generate too big a response. Dave and Sarah have wildly different experiences in life. And be prepared: Dave doesn’t care if you like him, but he’s going to tell you the truth. Sarah cannot understand that.
Back with Reverends Paul and Laura Whitmore of Southport Congregational Church in Southport, Connecticut. Not obviously an entrepreneurial couple, they’ve accomplished something that requires a distinctly entrepreneurial sensibility: by their wit and wisdom and coupleco cooperation, they’ve grown a membership by over 300%, and increased the annual budget by 500%. In this episode, we get an up-close and personal idea how staggering the divorce rate is for married clergy. We also hear more about the job and relationship in terms of a Venn diagram—sometimes together, sometimes apart. But, can there be too much together? And can there be too much equality in the business? What advice would the clergy couple have for any other couple in business together?
This episode is unusual. Some might argue that these two are not really a CoupleCo. Paul and Laura Whitmore work together in a category with a ragingly high divorce rate: married clergy. The Reverends Whitmore are ministers who run a congregational church in Southport, Connecticut. We’ve interviewed all kinds of people from all kinds of faiths, from faithful evangelicals, to fallen Mormons who follow the Jedi, to atheists who converted to Judaism, to everyday agnostics. Here, it doesn’t matter who or what you believe, as long you are a couple committed to your mission and each other. This is a story about having faith in building something big. What Paul and Laura have done requires entrepreneurial sensibility, intense cooperation, and shared vision. They’ve been building their church since the 1990s. In that time, they’ve roughly quadrupled the congregation and tripled the annual budget. This from two people who swore they would never work together. Not unusual enough? Wait for Paul’s assertion that spirituality and marketing go hand in hand. This is a conversation with parallels and even allegories for all couples in business together.
We’re back with Mike Tuiasoa and Cori Christine, proprietors of an unusual mashup of a comic book store and coffee shop in Salt Lake City. We’ll be talking about the crowdfunding campaign that they used to fund their newer, better location—a campaign that succeeded in part because of national attention from important people. We’re also going to get even more candid. As nerds who were misunderstood and even harassed as kids, they have now found themselves with a business that is a haven for nerds, misfits and the under-represented. We’re going to be talking about their marketing, which shows how you can build a following with media that is cheap or even free. ADVISORY: This episode has some discussion of sexual orientation. It’s neither graphic or explicit, but it is couched in the context of being part of a group that’s misunderstood.
Smart, funny, passionate, committed—this couple has it all. And this conversation is an eye opener into the joys of nerd culture. The business also seems like an obvious mashup—but why didn’t anyone do it sooner? It took Cori Christine and Mike Tuiasoa to put comic books and latté together at Watchtower Coffee & Comics in Salt Lake City. In part, this is about buying an existing business to avoid the pain of breaking in a new boss. This is also a story we’ve heard before: a couple breaks up in the middle of their business. Will they reconcile? There’s also a lesson about the importance of understanding the nature of your trade. It can be hugely profitable—but business owners often don’t grasp it. Plus, there’s a tale about seeing an opening and having the courage to take it—especially if it flies in the face of popular sentiment. And did you know that your business and your life can be informed by The Jedi, the Sith, and power of The Force?
We are back in suburban Chicago with Jon and Beth Van Dyke of Modern Re-Bath in Lake Villa. ReBath is a national franchise operation specializing in quick and easy bathroom remodels. In this episode, we discuss some interesting challenges. What if you’re a CoupleCo—who is essentially taking over a family business from the original CoupleCo? We’ll be talking more about the value of acting with purpose and intent—which plays into different communication styles, and how it’s a challenge when you don’t act with purpose and intent to understand those differences. And why on earth would you have a regular Monday-night date night? (This might be useful if you have a business where Mondays are a challenge. ) And, a bonus: At the end of the episode, a few good laughs with the first-ever multi-generational CoupleCo surprise guests.
We are in suburban Chicago, talking construction. Beth and Jon Van Dyke are crushing it with Re-Bath, the national franchise that specializes in quick and easy bathroom remodels. One reason these two are on this show is they‘re dedicated listeners. They were thrilled to find a resource for couplepreneurs. They’re also big fans (like us) of being purposeful and intentional. So, should you seek counsel about whether you’re doing the right thing for your relationship and business? What if deciding to not bring work home with you can get ugly? What happens when you each manage different departments that often conflict? Or, what if the economy goes off the rails and one of you has to be laid off? Plus, this began as a family business. What happens when you’re the interloper?
We are back in Boca Grande, Florida with Dr. Richard Perry and Dr. Elaine Carlson of Southern Maine Internal Medicine. Their skills at collaboration and cooperation are a lesson for any couple anywhere. Their business together was the result of desiring better quality of life. They left big jobs in the big city to start a little, out-of-the-way non-profit. Today, we look at possibly conflicting working styles, setting goals professionally vs. personally, and how on earth do the two of you go on vacation at the same time? Also, do any of us ever really retire? These two have a holistic approach to medicine—but is that matched by a similar approach to life, family and everything else? And get ready for the best advice ever to couples who think they want to work together.    
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