Starting a business or side hustle with your significant other comes with its fair share of ups and downs, but that's not to say that it cannot work.
In fact, there are many couples that make a great team, and their combined passion/bond often turns into a successful business venture.
Before going into business with your partner, you may want to consider a few key questions:
- Do we handle conflict well?
- Do we understand (and accept) each other's strengths and weaknesses? How can we effectively apply these to the business?
- Will we be able to motivate each other?
- The brutally honest question: Will we stay sane being together 24/7?
We've identified 15 couples that launched successful businesses. Each couple has their own unique story on how the business was started, how to manage your business as a couple and how much 💰 they're making today.
Start a bohemian leather accessories business
Alex and Ryan Hutchinson started Mahiya, which sells bohemian leather accessories and is making $75,000 revenue/mo.
When we started the business in 2013 Ryan was running his own small roofing business and I had a start-up label with a friend of mine selling at the local markets on the Gold Coast and also singing in bands and shows and also working as a disability carer. When I left my other business partner I asked Ryan if he would be interested in helping me with a new concept I had. We had only been together for 6 months at the time but Ryan thought why not give it a go and helped me get the business set up. In the beginning, we ran the business out of our spare bedroom until we outgrew that and moved to our garage where we built shelves and small office space.
Ryan had some limited experience in running a business but was very good with numbers. Ryan invested 20k as a start-up cost for the business, we allocated 15k of this into stock and the other 5k was spent on setting up our first website, our market stall setup and some marketing material.
You start a business to make money right so you want to know exactly what you are making and how much it costs. Remember your hours are worth something too.
Start a premium robes business
Evan and Jackie Streusand started Highway Robery, which sells premium robes and is making $4,200 revenue/mo.
We are Jackie and Evan Streusand - a married couple, living in Austin, Texas. (When not robe-ing) Jackie works as an interior designer for SLIC Design. Evan has owned and operated a sustainable women’s shoe brand called Fortress of Inca since 2010. Highway Robery was the inevitable outcome of our combined powers - Jackie (design + production) and Evan (business development + marketing).
Early in the summer of 2016 we took a road trip out to west Texas and spent a few days taking scenic drives and lounging around. There were a pair of colorful robes in the place that we were staying and naturally, we put them on. For the better part of the next few days they didn't really come off. We ate in them, we drank in them, we yada yada'd in them, and we slept in them. We had a great time and eventually we came back home to Austin.
That first $7,000 is all we have ever put into the business. We have grown it organically since then. As they say, slow and steady wins the race.
Start a online marketing services business
Travis Richardson started Impressions Agency , which sells online marketing services and is making $100,000 revenue/mo.
Prior to starting Impressions, I had the opportunity to work for a tech start-up company as a senior sales rep. My wife (although we were not dating at the time) also worked for the same company as a project manager. During this time, we both learned invaluable lessons about what to do and what not to do in business. You always hear about how hands-on experience is more valuable than education and this was exactly our case. We helped grow the tech startup from our living rooms into a multi-million dollar company. Mismanaged leadership ended up running the company off a cliff within three years.
At the end of when this company was blowing up was when my wife and I got married. I was worn out from the hassle and dealing with the blows brought by the mismanaged leadership so my wife and I jumped ship and decided to move to Costa Rica--the hard lessons learned made the Costa Rica extended honeymoon look extremely attractive.
Just start. You don’t have to have everything figured out before you begin. In fact, to this day we are still figuring things out. Each season of your business will provide a new learning opportunity.
Start a profitable real estate investments business
T. Cory Lewis started T. C. Lewis & Co. Real Estate, which sells profitable real estate investments and is making $500,000 revenue/mo.
I’m from a very small town in the Appalachians called Sylva, North Carolina. If you’re not familiar with that region, it’s a very diverse area. Sylva is in the north end of Jackson County, and Cashiers (and neighboring Highlands) are in the south end. Sylva is blue-collar, and a factory-type (now tourist) town and Cashiers/Highlands is a spot where some of the wealthiest people in the world have vacation homes and are all members of one of the ultra-exclusive private clubs.
Growing up, I worked at my family’s convenience store. I saw a lot of the folks headed through to Cashiers and Highlands up from Atlanta for the weekend, and a big portion of them seemed to be making their money in real estate. Some were making money buying the mountain land around my town at a low price from local farmers who had no use for the steep mountains, developing a portion of the top, and then selling it off for astronomical amounts of money to other rich people. I was amazed by that. And I couldn’t understand why no one locally had tried this himself.
I come from a fairly long line of entrepreneurs on both sides of my parent’s families. My great-grandfather on my dad’s side quit school after the fifth grade, and then he went on and started a convenience store business that I still help operate 85 years later as it has passed down to my grandfather, my dad, and now myself and my brother. And my grandfather on my mom’s side owned a heavy civil construction company building large-scale projects like interstates throughout the mid-1900s. My uncles and cousins still operate a part of that business, too.
Start a dog treats business
Lucas Walker started Treats Happen, which sells dog treats and is making $15,000 revenue/mo.
We started making dog treats for ourselves when we weren’t happy with the options in stores. After seeing a few others selling online, we thought why not us.
Most products in stores were pretty unhealthy (think cookies but for dogs. High in carbs and sugar, and a lot of chemicals and preservatives). The healthier products were all aimed towards people with smaller dogs. We’d go through a bag of treats in half a day.
Way too many people have great ideas. At the end of the day, the ultimate litmus test is if someone will buy your product. Sales is one of the best skills you can learn. If you want to grow and scale, you’ll be pitching/selling for media coverage, investors, even suppliers.
Start a authentic thai food business
Alex Moore started Rosa's Thai Cafe, which sells authentic thai food and is making $2,000,000 revenue/mo.
My wife and I used to own a small restaurant in Hong Kong called Tuk Tuk Thai, which is still going strong today, but it’s now owned and run by others. After 17 years in Asia, we moved back to London in 2005. After moving back to the UK we craved Thai food but were disappointed by the Thai offerings in the UK which felt more to us like a representation of what a Thai person thinks an English person would want a Thai restaurant to look like! Photos of waterfalls, elephants and mediocre Thai food didn’t feel representative of the places we’d eaten in Bangkok and Hong Kong. With this in mind we decided to set up our own business and do it better.
Rosa’s started life as a market stall and office catering company, which served food cooked in our small flat in East London. We’d wake up at 4 am to prepare and cook, the kitchen was so small Saiphin would have to use gas canisters to cook the food, before ferrying it down in a taxi to the market stall in London’s famous Brick Lane. The stall was an instant success, we’d sell out every Sunday. Saiphin would cook amazing authentic Thai food using locally sourced ingredients, wherever possible, and in doing so adapted traditional dishes that are still incredibly popular in our restaurants today, such as the butternut red curry and soft spring rolls.
The market stall went from strength to strength, and so we opened more stalls nearby. I’d support all the logistics behind the stall, such as signage, electricity, pricing, and receipts. I’d jump on my bike to go back and forth to Chinatown to buy supplies as they ran out. During one of these trips, I saw a for rent sign in the window of a former English cafe called Rosa’s Cafe. I gave them a call, spoke to the landlord and put together a business plan, we then pitched against 20 other businesses to open a restaurant, and in June 2008 we opened our first brick and mortar site, using money we made from the market stall, some friends and family seed investors and Alex’s credit card! Due to our incredibly tight budget, we opened without a dishwasher and not enough money to finish the basement, it was left bare. We also had no money to change the sign, so we kept the name Rosa’s and so Rosa’s Thai Cafe was born.
Start a digital financial products and courses business
Kelan Kline started The Savvy Couple, which sells digital financial products and courses and is making $20,000 revenue/mo.
I was your average kid growing up wanting to be a police officer and changing the world one bad guy at a time. Brittany also knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, a teacher.
After meeting each other in 9th grade American Sign Language class the rest is history. We started dating at age fourteen and have never looked back. Best friends would be an understatement.
Start a jewelry business
Tara Mikolay started Desires by Mikolay, which sells jewelry and is making $287,000 revenue/mo.
Scott of course had such incredible experience and was a Master Jeweler at a very young age. But his ambition would not let him stop there...it was a natural progression when his father wanted to retire to consider growth.
Scott & I have always been such a great team in every sense of the word. We truly balance each others skillset. We sat down one night in our home, opened a bottle of red wine and discussed what the options where. While the thought of opening a store was intimidating, we felt we could do it better and with more HEART than other jewelers in the area.
What I have learned from this is to slow down, take the time to review information properly and make educated decisions.
Start a hatchet experience business
Stuart and Kelly Josberger/Trish and Mark Oliphant started Stumpy’s Hatchet House, which sells hatchet experience and is making $80,000 revenue/mo.
My husband and I, along with their friends Mark & Trish Oliphant had a casual backyard barbecue one night after a sail on the Barnegat Bay. Chopping wood for a chiminea fire led to the creation of an impromptu game of throwing the axe to a makeshift bullseye on a stump from a tree that came down during Superstorm Sandy.
The game evolved to a more sophisticated target of 2 x 6′ timbers on a tripod stand in the backyard. Soon, the four of us realized this game had potential and decided to take it indoors, recreating the fun and bonding over food, drinks, and some hatchet throwing. We wanted our business to provide more than just a place to play a game. Stumpy’s “social throwdown” allows friends to get together to create memories by doing something slightly out of their comfort zone in a beautiful, rustic environment.
Starting a business was something that the four of us often talked about when spending time together for our “next career”. Mark, a retired union carpenter, was raring to go. His wife Trish had been working for Ralph Lauren in the men’s wholesale division, while I was 3 years from retiring from the school system as an elementary school principal. My husband, Stuart, was also eager to have a successful side business, but at the time none of us had thought this business idea would evolve into a major recreation industry. After the business was up and running for several months, Trish, Stu, and I were able to join Mark in retirement from our “day jobs”. The four of us used our diversified backgrounds set out to go “all in” with our goal to be the #1 name in indoor recreation for adults.
Start a pimple popping simulator business
Summer Pierce started Unique Obsessions, LLC, which sells pimple popping simulator and is making $53,675 revenue/mo.
The idea came to me while my husband Billy and I were driving. As we were driving down the I75 on our way back from seeing a sick relative, we were bouncing different business ideas off of one another like we’d done many many times in the past. When all of a sudden I said to Billy what if we could make a pimple that actually popped like a real pimple? Just like the video’s we watch on YouTube?
Following our first viral video, we did over 100k in 8 days! At this time and up until December 2018 we have been making them by hand! We hand built over 10k POP IT PALS in that year!
Billy instantly looked at me and said I think I can make that! I immediately searched all over the internet to see if there was anything like this that existed. I couldn’t find anything at all. That’s when I grabbed a pen and paper and we started thinking what it would look like, what could we make the pimple pus out of, what to name the product & our business.
Start a surprise vacations business
Roshni & Jeff started The Vacation Hunt, which sells surprise vacations and is making $40,000 revenue/mo.
The Vacation Hunt was a melding of several ideas actually! Jeff and I often just buy plane tickets to somewhere on a whim when we know we’ll have time off from work and when we see a good deal to a place we haven’t been.
When we came back from the trip, we told a friend about the whole surprise aspect and she asked us to plan a similar surprise vacation for her - and it just kind of went from there!
For his 30th birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Patagonia in Chile! He knew he was going on a trip to celebrate (and he knew that we were going somewhere wild since I had him pack his hiking shoes) but apart from that, he didn’t know much else until the day before the trip!
Start a fun & colourful groomsmen socks business
Mari & Matt McNamara started No Cold Feet LLC, which sells fun & colourful groomsmen socks and is making $17,800 revenue/mo.
During college, I (Matt) became enamored with startups, entrepreneurship, technology, and the idea of working for a company that combined all three of these. I ended up with a degree in advertising and anticipated working in that industry where people commonly job hop from one agency to another every couple of years.
I left college with somewhere north of $75k in student loans which largely meant a job at an early stage startup was out of the question. I ended up at a 90-year-old manufacturing company as a Marketing Coordinator where I have thrived there largely in part to an amazing manager and the nature of a small company where you can wear as many hats as you put on.
In hindsight, this was an incredible opportunity for me and largely what allowed my wife and me to successfully launch No Cold Feet. On the professional side, I gained experience in marketing, sales, e-commerce, product development, manufacturing abroad, hiring, and so many other skills that ultimately fed into operating our business. On the personal side, the stability of the company, some early promotions and raises, and living at home for three years allowed me to significantly pay down my student loans, buy a car, and save for an engagement ring...
Start a romantic experiences business
Ta'Veca Collins started Romance On The Go, Concierge Services, which sells romantic experiences and is making $2,400 revenue/mo.
Before I officially started ROTGO, I was planning and designing romantic rendezvous for my husband, family, and friends, for FREE!
I would get calls asking if I could set-up a room for this birthday, that anniversary, or help me get out the dog house!
I would get calls asking if I could set-up a room for this birthday, that anniversary, or help me get out the dog house! The defining moment that allowed for Romance On The Go to be born was in October 2010, when my bridesmaids and close friends surprised me on my wedding night. My bridesmaids and close friends very strategically sneaked off and decorated our Honeymoon Suite with candles and rose petals throughout the suite. Hear me when I say “strategically”, I mean I never noticed that they were missing from the reception.
Start a email unsubscribing service business
Danielle Johnson started Leave Me Alone, which sells email unsubscribing service and is making $1,000 revenue/mo.
Leave Me Alone isn’t my first product, but it’s the first one that is on the right path to success. Getting there has been an interesting journey!
I loved computers from an early age but I only started coding at 18. I didn’t develop an instant passion for it and I only considered it as a career 2 years later when I went to university to study computer science. After graduating I worked at the UK government for a year, but the culture and heavy focus on climbing the career ladder wasn’t a good fit for me. I tried a stint in the startup scene in Bristol, but I wanted more freedom to work on my own projects. James and I left the UK to travel the world for a year - that was almost three years ago!
The first few things you try are probably going to fail, or you might have to pivot drastically based on unexpected feedback. This is perfectly ok and normal, and will help you be a better entrepreneur if you learn from your mistakes.