PCM Report Part V – Couples

Couples can enjoy Small businesses as they serve their community, fight inflation, enhance their relationship and have fun.

Couples can defy the laws of math because one plus one can equal more than two in a small business.

Merri and I, and millions of other couples that have a small business they share, have proven this again and again.

I believe that one reason we enjoy success in our internet business is that we answer most of our email personally. This means our readers pretty much reach Merri or me direct. We are able to do this because we share the tasks we get to perform in our business.

This message looks at one more great benefit that comes from having your own small business…enjoying your partners…married or not.

From a practical point of view, two people, working together well get, more than double energy. They can gain synergy (super energy) when their efforts compliment each other.

So perhaps you should look at your partner or the idea f having a partner and ask, “how could we gain from running a business together”?

Recently a delegate at one of our course sent this note.

“Dear Gary & Merri, When we first spoke at your place Gary I said that I couldn’t keep up with all of your writings and that you must “have a lot of time”. I now know that we both have the exact same amount of time in a given day and that you CHOOSE to spend some of yours writing. That’s a wonderful thing and fits you well. I also believe that you are one of the better speakers that I have ever heard. I got a tremendous lift from your conference and truly enjoyed almost every participant.

One of the most powerful things that I got though was watching you and Merri interact. You have the utmost respect for one another. In the midst of a working environment your marriage shows up as kind, patient, peaceful, easy and exudes a palpable love. It is a great example and I aspire to do better at creating the same in my own marriage. Thank you for this and for all you did to create a great workshop experience.”

The fact is that Merri and I truly enjoy one another’s company. Having a business where we work together makes our lives better. We get more time together and are able to more closely share our passions and goals. Working together as a small business couple has reaped many rewards. Here we are at a small cottage given to us by an Andean indigenous community after our efforts secured a community water supply for the village. What a thrill!


Many other couples are making this same thrilling discovery.

A recent MSNBC article by Jason Del Rey entitled “Couples that work together, stay together?” explains how increased numbers of spouses are enjoying benefits of sharing a professional passion. The story tells about a couple who after moving in together moved to Atlanta and both found new jobs. The article says: “The money was good and their careers seemed to be on track. But something was suffering as a result: their happiness. They never saw each other — maybe an hour or two in the evenings so they quit their jobs and used the wife’s experience in pottery and charged $23,000 on credit cards, to open a pottery studio.”

Later they sold this business and started another offering franchise locations. They now have more than 30 franchise locations throughout seven states, with sales of $12 million in 2007.

They realized that they would rather work harder and work for themselves and be able to see each other.

The article states that “According to the National Federation of Independent Business, there were approximately 1.2 million husband-and wife-owned small businesses nationwide in 2003, the most recent year for which the group has data. Anecdotally, family-business experts say that number has only continued to climb.”

The article also points out that wives are getting more involved and now are more entrepreneurial.

Here we are hiking arund a crater lake near our colonial in in Cotacachi


Another article at Money.cnn says:

“Glenn Muske, an Oklahoma State University professor who has spent the past six years studying the topic, estimates that 3 million of the 22 million U.S. small businesses in 2000 were couple-owned. He doesn’t expect updated figures until late spring, but he and other experts believe that further growth has occured in the past half-decade.

“What has triggered this transformation? Turns out that mom and pop shops have changed in large part because Mom now often has as much education as Pop (if not more), and she’s determined to use it.

“Women now hold 59 percent of all college degrees, and are moving rapidly into traditionally male-dominated fields, such as engineering and computer science, that prepare them to launch scalable companies, as opposed to the stereotypical home-based catering business.”

Some of the positive comments in this article include how they treasure the advantages of their arrangement. When you have to explain to your business partner that you need to reschedule a meeting because your child is in a play, it’s a lot easier when that child is also your partner’s.

Merri and I have found that running our small business as a couple has helped our family a lot. All five children worked for us beginning at age seen or eight. They provided a great, motivated labor force and  learned the value of work as well. Though they are now grown, they all still contribute! Here is a shot the kids took of Merri and me on a business get together at the Pacific.


The article includes:

“What’s more, running a business adds another dimension to the relationship and deepens it. Many couples say it’s like raising a child of a different sort.

“A couple creates a haven for children

“Couples love sharing firsts, first-ever client, first really large contract – the shared memories. Running a business together is partly a savvy economic move and partly a lifestyle one,” says Gwen Martin.

“Men and women are seeking work-family balance, and they have more control of their time as owners. Who better to join forces with, they say, than someone you trust professionally and personally – someone you’ve been bouncing ideas off anyway? The potentially favored status of majority-woman-owned businesses by government and corporations assigning contracts is an additional incentive.

“While innovation in information technology has helped propel growth in small business as a whole, it has especially encouraged couple-owned firms to grow more distinctive and competitive. And it has opened opportunities in a stunning variety of new fields that engage the interest of curious, educated, well-traveled married entrepreneurs.

“The e-commerce technology developed in the past ten years has enabled us to grow, because small companies like ours can actually afford it,” says Jessica Kogan, 34, who with her husband launched Cameron Hughes Wine, a San Francisco-based discounter of high-quality surplus vintages. “It’s allowed us to build a customer base outside California.”

“Technology has also encouraged couples to outsource many of their manufacturing and back-office functions, create complex products and services, and adopt a global perspective.

“Kathy Marshack, author of Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, says, “Husband and wife teams are investigating different markets all over the world.”

“In other words, they’re not simply serving pinot noir in a restaurant or selling it in a wine shop, but importing barrels of it from France, outsourcing the bottling, and selling it to retailers such as Costco. Which is precisely what Kogan and her husband, Cameron Hughes, 36, have done.”

Our small business has created a lot of adventure. Here we are with a shama deep in the rain forests of the Llanganatis where vast amounts of Inca gold are rumored to be buried.


There are of course negatives with every positive as the article concludes when it says:

“Sophisticated businesses and lofty goals can, of course, bring high stress levels – and in a husband-and-wife-owned business, you can’t come home and complain about your business partner.”

Inflation, currency instability and economic shifts are everywhere. For many this spells disaster. For those who adapt, the greater the problem, the bigger the opportunity.

Spouses, couples living together, even friends may want to ask, “can we adapt better together”?

One way to adapt to rapid change and move ahead is to magnify your efforts. Defy the math! Let one and one equal three, four or more with you own small couples business.

Click below to continue reading this report

Chapter Two – The Life of a Publisher

Chapter Three – Three Foundations of Success

Chapter Four – Longevity

Chapter Five – Publishing for Couples

Chapter Six – If You Have Children

Chapter Seven – Synchronicity in this Publishing.

Return to Part I of this Report

Further Research

New Yorker Warren’s Way by James Surowiecki

Read Izu Inamori’s Words of the Week here.

How Charlie Munger Saved me a Fortune

Forbes America’s Fastest-Dying Towns