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Could you start a business with your other half? Here's the advice of 3 couples who did


The office has long been a breeding ground for budding romances.

Common interests, long hours and shared lunch breaks can make for the perfect meeting environment. Even today, despite the proliferation of online dating apps, work remains a common meeting place for more than one in 10 heterosexual couples in the U.S.

But actively going into business with your other half is another thing entirely.

Power couples like Melinda and Bill Gates — who themselves met on the job at Microsoft in 1989 — are proof of the synergies that can come from working with your soulmate. For the past 19 years, the couple has jointly headed a string of multi-billion-dollar philanthropic ventures via their Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Indeed, going into business with your significant other can even provide a smart employment option. According to one study from Germany's Institute of Labor Economics, entrepreneurial couples often start companies together to address the limited employment and financial opportunities available to one spouse — usually women.

However, making a business partner of your real life partner is no easy ride. So CNBC Make It spoke to three U.S. couples who took the leap to find out just how they made it work.

Separate work from home

First up, it's important to draw clear boundaries so that work does not interfere with a healthy home life, says Justin Trout, co-founder of LA-based fermented tea company Health-Ade Kombucha.

"Work is exciting, especially when you're the founders of the business, so it's naturally tempting to spend 24/7 working on the journey together. But there's more to your relationship than that," he says.

"Carving out sacred home time creates space to remember all the other reasons you love each other," he continues.

His wife, Daina Trout, agrees: "I give my job 100% of my attention when I am at work, but when the workday is over, I do my best to switch gears and focus 100% on my family and personal life. You can't live and work with someone without setting those types of boundaries."

Justin and Daina Trout, co-founders of fermented tea company Health-Ade Kombucha.
Health-Ade Kombucha

Celebrate joint wins

No job is without its challenges, so it's important to find strengths in your joint wins along the way, says Staci Brinkman, founder and CEO of Sips by, a Texas-based tea subscription service.

"Consider a time when you accomplished something difficult together," says Brinkman, highlighting home renovations and travel plans she and her husband, Øivind, have worked on together.

Then, ask yourself: "Did it go smoothly? When something didn't go to plan did you smile through it or argue heavily?" That should provide a good indicator of how well you work as a team, she notes.

Own individual successes

By the same measure, when working as a pair it can be easy to lose sight of your individual achievements. It's therefore vital to celebrate your own success, too, notes Trout.

"Everyone needs their own wins," Trout says. "Sometimes that well-earned serotonin rush should be yours and yours alone."

"Sharing everything all the time can erode an important sense of self," he continues. "Partner wins are great, but working in your own space in your own way is also an important puzzle piece in developing as a manager and leader."

Agree to disagree

Jason and Gorjana Reidel, co-founders of California-born jewelry business Gorjana

Regardless of whether or not you work with your partner, Brinkman says that all couples should develop a healthy way of handling conflict.

"Øivind and I worked earlier in our dating years on how to best communicate, resolve wants-needs, and learned when and how the other liked to address disagreements. This helps us tremendously now at Sips by," she says.

"It's not productive to always be agreeable," adds Gorjana Reidel, co-founder of eponymous California-born jewelry line Gorjana. "Being open to see things from a different perspective helps aid growth."

Trust each other

Running a business requires a great deal of faith, both in your own abilities and those of your business partner, notes Reidel. Make sure that fundamental trust is there at the outset, she says, so that you're able to equally balance the load.

"You have to have trust in yourself and each other," says Reidel and her husband and co-founder, Jason Reidel. "So much of the process is 'divide and conquer,' so it's imperative to trust your partner and also for you to feel they trust you equally."

Take time for yourself

Finally, in any relationship it's important to take time for yourself. But that's especially important when you spend your working day with your significant other, says Brinkman.

"Øivind and I both make sure to take time for ourselves and individual interests," she says. Crucially, that includes making separate commutes into and out of the office to allow time to switch gears.

"Going home separately gives us time to decompress after a work day and get back into 'home mode,'" she says.

Staci Brinkman and Øivind Loe, co-founders of tea subscription service Sips by.
Sips by