When your Youngest Child is your Business

On a typical Monday morning for a dual career couple, each spouse goes to spend the business day apart, reuniting at the end of the day for family time. That’s not the case for some local couples who are not only married, but are also business partners. What are the highs (and lows) of owning a business with your spouse? Some Gainesville business owners got frank on this topic.

Drew and Emily Pridgen have been married since 2004 and they are parents to three children: Jacob (10), Grace (8) and Liberty (7). Just over three years ago, they opened Bouncin’ Big – an inflatable fun zone for kids. They have since expanded to a second location, geared towards younger kids, called Boucin’ Big Junior Town Center.

Emily says the best part of working together is that she and Drew get to spend a lot of time with each other – more than the average married couple. “We can have lunch dates, enjoy time together and still have business talk while on a lunch date,” she says.

Plus, they each get to see how hard the other person is working. “We both are working on reaching the same goals and can truly understand when work is stressful or when something exciting is going on.”

Stress comes with the territory, so what happens when there is conflict about an aspect of the business?

“If and when we disagree on something with the business we typically take a day, table the subject and then revisit the topic the next day,” Emily says.  “By then, most of the time, we are able to move forward for the best interest of the business.”

Like any marriage, she feels that communication and balance are important. They try to ensure they make time for each other and the kids. “We do not discuss business at the dinner table with the kids, and we try to make sure that we have quality time with the kids each afternoon that has no discussion of the business.”

Interestingly, the kids don’t seem to realize that having parents who own a business together is unusual, and she even feels that their kids’ friends think the business is a lot cooler than their kids do.

There is one benefit the kids get from this unique type of business, though. “They think it is normal to have bounce houses that they can play on any day!” Emily says.

While the Pridgens spend a lot of time together in their business, another local business owning couple spends a lot of their day apart. April and Scott Schroeder are the owners of Marketing Mud, a specialty item company, and Liquid Creative Studio, an advertising and marketing agency. The Schroeders also own The Business Report. They are parents to Maddy (16) and Adley (8). April says that they have divided up their responsibilities based on their strengths. “Surprisingly, we cross paths and talk shop very little during the work day, much like a typical couple,” she says.

April points to the flexibility of business ownership as a key benefit, and interestingly says that the fact that she and Scott are opposites is both a challenge and a benefit.

“We have a great balance and work well together,” she says. “We are both respectful of each other and the roles that we each have within our business. We trust that each other is handling their own areas.”   

She said that the kids, especially Adley, have grown up around the businesses. Maddy even worked for them part time last summer. She said that they often talk about business as a way of sharing the highs and lows of their day at dinner.

“We like to share with our girls what we do at work, our successes and our accomplishments,” she says.  “It’s fun to talk through them as a family. In that case, we are talking about work but in a way that all couples integrate work topics into their conversations.”

When they do disagree about business-related topics, it can be anything from a major issue or the color of a wall. Their best tactic is to listen.

“We try hard to respect the other person’s views, listen to each other’s concerns or thoughts and then work through it with communication. We also see each other as individual parts of a bigger team so, while the ultimate decision sometimes does reside with one of us, the majority of our decisions include other members of our team.”

Is a marriage/business something you are considering? These two power couples have some advice. The Pridgens thinks owning a business together is great. “We enjoy working together. It is not always easy or fun, but that’s life and any job.”  

The Schroeders concur. “Do it!” says April. “If your marriage is strong and you trust and respect the other person, you are sure to have a successful partnership – in life, not just business!”

Valerie_color-webValerie Riley is Product & Content Senior Manager for SharpSpring, Inc. She and her husband Brent are working parents to two school-age children.

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