How to Run a Business With Your Spouse Without Ruining the Relationship

If you’re considering starting a business with your spouse, you might want to discuss a few things with one another to avoid ruining your relationship. So to get some insight on how to divide responsibilities and shut down work issues at home, we asked husband-and-wife co-founders Holly McWhorter and Bjarke Ballisager of Plant Apothecary to share their perspective.



As co-founders of a successful makeup line and beauty brand, you both bring a mix of skills in architecture, journalism, and music. What transferrable skills did you bring into running the business every day? Architecture demands a high level of problem-solving skills, so we’ve both been able to bring those to the table for this business from our work in that field—along with visual presentation and design skills. And I’ve been able to put my writing skills to use with our marketing efforts—the blog, social media, and written interviews. We haven’t found a place for the music yet, but maybe that’ll come later!

What’s the hardest part of working together as a team every day? The hardest part is the creative conflicts. No two creatives will ever have exactly the same ideas about how best to present a brand, and being married doesn’t change that at all. And then there’s the difficulty of rarely having any time away from each other during the day, so we can start to miss each other. Time apart is good for any relationship!

After a challenging day at work, how do you turn off work mode? We wish we could say we’re always out and about on the town, taking in art and music and socializing, but the truth is we’re both usually so worn out after work these days that it’s usually Netflix. Or soccer, for Bjarke. But we’re hoping that as the business grows and we’re able to expand our staff, we’ll be less stressed and have more energy after work!

Can you provide any tips or advice for working with your spouse? Here’s the main one: Try to divide and conquer, as in being responsible for separate parts of the business. Consistent agreement about every single aspect of a complex business (or complex anything) with one’s spouse is not something that occurs in the natural world, so if you can avoid having to do that, do.