ROMIO and Juliette means more to us than a Shakespearean, romantic tragedy. We chose to name our separate businesses in a complementary way, which is the way we approach our relationship. Our cats are even named Mark Anthony and Cleopatra.
When we first got together, only one of us was in the startup role. Now, happily married for nearly seven years, we’re both running our own businesses in New York City. Tarik runs ROMIO, a platform that provides trusted recommendations for local services from friends and neighbors, while Rechelle runs Juliette, a mobile app that offers premium overnight laundry service.
The best way we can describe our relationship now is a roller coaster ride, traveling in different directions at varying speeds. We work perfectly opposite schedules, with Tarik building ROMIO by meeting local experts during the day and Rechelle running her service at night, and are always on the go. But every day at 7 p.m., we unfasten our seatbelts, get off the roller coaster and make an effort to share a meal together before parting in different directions.
We’ve found four ways to keep our relationship at home healthy while balancing our growing companies.
The greatest benefit of being married to another entrepreneur is the ability to control our own schedules. Constantly working and driving a startup is draining, so we force ourselves to take short vacations to recharge. About two weeks ago, we took a trip to Saint Thomas and did absolutely nothing except lay on the beach and soak in the sun. We came back fully recharged and relaxed. This helps tremendously, especially since most small business owners work more than 50 to even 60 hours per week, the Financial Post reported, something we’ve definitely found to be true in our own lives.
If we can’t take a short trip away from the city, we try to make an effort to relax and wind down together, whether it’s at dinner table or going out to see a new show or movie at the theater.
While we may be at different development stages in our startups, we see a lot of synergies to building our businesses—especially since we’re in the same industry. We often leverage mutual contacts and share campaigns, from investors to website developers. And we never hesitate to use each other as a sounding board for ideas and concepts, tweaking and brainstorming aloud, before taking it public to the team or investors.
For example, we tap into Rechelle’s strong background in marketing and social skills to get feedback for ROMIO’s user interface. We also leverage Tarik’s background in finance and strong business acumen to strengthen Juliette’s business model.
The interesting, and sometimes difficult, part about having two different startups in different stages is managing our personal dynamic when one business is taking off, while the other is experiencing growing pains. The stages of each business may not always be in sync, and while the business paths are parallel, our journeys can be completely different.
When Juliette launched and received positive feedback and strong numbers out of the gate, ROMIO was working through the developmental challenges of a website re-launch. The emotional differences we experienced, with Rechelle elated and Tarik frustrated, made it hard for us to celebrate and induced guilt from both of us. A good way we worked through the emotional difference was by communicating about each other’s difficulties and sacrifices, and trying not to let guilt or envy take over.
We as entrepreneurs have an innate drive that keeps us going. While that drive can be hard for us to maintain sometimes, being married to another entrepreneurial spirit keeps our business passions alive.
When we talk about how our days went when we are relaxing at home with Marc Anthony and Cleopatra, it’s always interesting for us to hear how different, yet similar, our experiences are, from the tales of ROMIO’s site development to the steady build of Juliette’s client base. These seemingly innocuous conversations are enough for us to spark the flame that keeps our passions and interests alive, and keeps the experience memorable.
Work-life balance can be difficult to achieve when running a startup, but when you’re married to another entrepreneur, the chaos can be twice as fun as it is challenging. We do our best to take mental breaks, share resources and be mindful and encouraging to strengthen both of our businesses and maintain a healthy relationship at home.