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Business Coupling: Making A Family Business Work

It used to be you kept home and work life separate.  Work was neatly stashed at the front door and conversation around the dinner table was pleasantries about your day and what you were going to do on the weekend.

But there’s shift happening in the world of business. This shift is not only more and more women are starting their own businesses but partners going into business together.

It might sound like a recipe for disaster but with over 70% of Australian businesses owned and operated by couples, and with this number growing, it is bringing couples closer as they build their dream.

Corryn Barakat started her online business, Milk and Love, six years ago. When juggle of managing two kids, a business on the side and a full time job was too much, she packed in the full-time job and plunged feet first into a space she loves, curating amazing products for mums to be and new mums. Business started to boom, and she realised, she needed help. Enter stage right, husband Richard.

“It was time to team up. I couldn’t do it all myself, so Richard quit his job and looks after the business side” Corryn said.

“Working in business together gives us flexibility as a family. Now with three children, we’re able to better manage the work/home balance. If I am on a deadline, Richard looks after the home stuff and vice a versa …and we don’t have to ask a boss if it is ok.

“Working together has changed our relationship and understanding of each other. When Richard was working 9 to 5, neither of us appreciated each other’s roles. Now we understand the frustrations and joys on both side and are more in sync.

But what about the other side of the coin. Surely, it can’t all be peaches and cream?

Corryn said boundaries can be an issue. “It’s a lot harder to find space. However, when you spend time apart, you appreciate another more.  When you are together 24/7 – you know what the other person is doing and you’re in each other’s pockets a lot more.  It can be a negative – a bit of distance makes the heart grow finder.  It can be hard to leave business at work and home at home,” she said.

For Corryn and Richard, working together has made a difference to their relationship. “It has added value to our relationship. Although it was a little cramped when we worked out of the third bedroom; springing for an office outside the home was winning idea; renting a room is cheaper than a divorce,” she laughed.

Despite differences, and the challenges of turning off at night, being able to work with their best friend is a bonus.