Advice from BRIDGE Insiders: Balancing your work and love life

Mixing business with pleasure can be tricky – but sometimes falling in love with your co-worker or business partner is inevitable, right? They say you spend a third of your life at work, so it isn’t questionable how one could catch feelings for another. As the saying goes, “You love who you love.” 

The question is, once you’ve committed to that person can you balance your work and your love life? We asked BRIDGE Local Insiders how they have managed to be successful lovers and business partners. We also asked which came first, business or love. Here’s what they had to say:

Support each other

“My wife Shannon Arturi and I started a business almost by accident. Over a decade, that business has evolved and is now two businesses, both of which we run together. It’s got advantages and disadvantages for sure but it works for us. We each have our own responsibilities so neither of us works “for” the other. Rather, it’s truly a team effort (sounds so corny as I write it) but it’s true. I’m not sure if we could even do it by ourselves and there is no doubt that we are both stronger as a team. I’m often jealous of those entrepreneurs who have a spouse with a normal job and benefits. It’s sort of a safety net that those of us who are self employed couples don’t have that luxury. It would be nice to have that sort of cushion but I wouldn’t trade what we have for anything.” – Rob Arturi, Express Credentialing

“Though Ed is not IN business with me, his support of my goals and dreams have made a huge difference. He took over many of the household chores so I could focus on building. I am so grateful to have him with me, even though he’s not on the payroll.” – Tracie Carley, Mary Kay Cosmetics

“Hmmm which came first…I have been in the photography business for 11 years, so the business was there then I almost gave it up. I met Stacy ( the love part) then the business was ignited again and with her help and encouragement it is now a BLAZE! We are now full time in the business and it is amazing. Advice to others in business together full time is recognize the other person’s strengths. Acknowledge those strengths. Understand that they will not always do things the way you would and that is okay. Make time for each other in a NO BUSINESS setting. Keep in Mind you both are one the same team and want to succeed. For us it is paradise! Best of all worlds! Do it!” – Garry Boyce, Garry and Stacy Photography Co.

“First came love! To work together can be difficult at times but sharing those “win” moments together….live….makes up for all the tough moments along the way! I think the key is just respect each other and try to have conversations about issues without interjecting emotions.

Make sure you are both working towards shared goals. Give gratitude and recognition just as you would have to your most valued co-worker. Recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses and understand them. Enjoy your social time together and put the business aside. Really….I think it is that simple!” – Gil Heim, Florida Spotlight Homes Group at Keller Williams Realty

“Love came first! It’s not always easy working with your spouse, but communication, understanding, and the ability to learn new skills is key. For better or worse, business or pleasure, you both are in it together! I agree with Gil Heim, it’s also about recognizing and understanding each other’s weaknesses & strengths. Knowing there is that one person who has your back throughout all the good times and bad times makes it all worth it!” – Kendra Ruggiero, Escapology Escape Rooms

Make time for your significant other

“Love came first. About 15 years after we were married we worked at the same company, he was in IT, I was in Accounting. We started our business together in 2012, part time, and we have been full time for several years. It has worked well for us. We take lunch together most days, and try to take a short coffee break together in the afternoon. We have a home office with two desks, though sometimes Bob will take his computer into the other room. It has helped having a safe sounding board to bounce ideas and issues off of. Our biggest challenge has been keeping our personal time, just that, with no work conversation. But we love working together.” – Debbie Knox, CruiseOne

“Love came first.. the hubby and I met at the early age of 19, married shortly after. We decided we both wanted the same thing, to be self employed he knew fence and I knew business administration. We moved to Lakeland because it was where we rekindled our love. We started our business here. The best advice I can give is #1. Stay and respect your line/lane/field.. he knows and respects I take care of anything and everything that is handled in the office and I know and respect what he does in the field. #2. Create actual business hours and stick to them! #3. Make time for each other outside of work!” – Lydia Marban & Arturo Marban, Premium Fence

“My husband Scott and I work together at Lakeland Liquidation, which is a business he initially started. I joined in about 8 years ago but love came first – we’ve been together since high school. We both have our own responsibilities. He mostly runs the operations as well as the design work and estimates and I take care of the finances and running the office. It definitely helps to keep work at work and personal time just for us. I like the flexibility being self employed gives us. It’s been the best decision!” – Dionne Hodgson, Lakeland Liquidation

“Agree with Gil [Heim]! And make time for yourselves that doesn’t include talking about the business! It’s hard but you’ve got to still have your time away together! ?” – Marcus Ruggiero, Escapology Escape Rooms

“Love came first! SAJE Properties was a natural next step from our “hobby” of buying and renovating homes. I think it is important to find each others strengths and build off that. We’re fortunate in the ways we compliment each other, I imagine (and have heard) others are not so lucky in that way. My advice is to go on vacations and leave work behind, have date nights where no shop talk is allowed because even if you love what you do – like Joe and I do – it can’t be 24/7. You need to give your mind a break from the daily grind! Make sure family comes first!” – Launi Shapiro, SAJE Properties

Be flexible

“Love came first 🙂 My best piece of advice is to know your partner and know yourself, and be honest about what you need so “professional” and “personal” success don’t come at the expense of the other. Have “off time” to connect as a couple outside of the business, and be willing to be flexible as you both grow to adapt to evolving needs in the company and life.” – Dianne Aikey Kaplan, 1st Priority Staffing

“Love came first. So I figured if I said no to her business idea I could say goodbye to the, um……. benefits. 5 years later we are still growing.” – Mark Parker, Bella Viságe Medical & Aesthetic Rejuvenation

Advice from BRIDGE Local Co-founder Chrissanne Long

“Love came first. I was teaching when I met Craig, but I realized that the unsettled feeling I had was the entrepreneurial itch.  I wanted more than I could get from a “real job” but there was no precedence for taking such a giant leap. When I lost my job, I had to reinvent what my definition of success was, and with Craig’s encouragement, I completed my Masters Degree in Internet Marketing and we built our business together, one day at a time. That was 2009. We’ve come a long way, and the best is yet to come.

I think the best advice I can give is something Craig taught me:  Find baseline.  Entrepreneurship is not for the weak of heart and it will test your faith, and your love more than anyone can explain.  So, you need to know where your love is, every single day. When things are tough, you will want to cry, and you might want to give up, but if you know where your love is, it will help you through the most challenging times. It won’t solve the problems, but it will make the problems worth solving. I have this quote on my desk: ‘Without great sacrifice, there is no GREAT success. Whatever path you choose, be comfortable with the idea that it will require a lot of work.’ Sometimes the reward is just looking at him, looking at me, knowing we have each other. This might not be enough for everyone reading this, but so far, it has been enough for us!” 

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