Working with your partner, great idea or big mistake?

Posted on May 27th, 2013

Working with my best friend and husband.

In many ways working with Nick is all I have ever known. He was at Tesco in the same department as me when I joined as a new graduate in 1989. Our career paths stayed together through out Tesco, into Unilver and then in 2002 we took the huge decision to abandon the corporate careers and take on Coombe Mill. However this was going to be more than seeing each other in meetings and saving Unilever a few pennies on overnight confrences by sharing a room! Running Coombe Mill together meant learning together, sharing the business ups and downs, only having each other to consult and having no external boss. When I look back and reflect on the pressures we had with three young children age four and under, not understanding the first thing about the holiday market or farming yet having a very clear vision for the business we were taking on, I think we have managed our business relationship very well. By adding 3 more children within 2 years giving us six under six whilst developing the new business I think we did rather well on our persnoal relationship too!

11 years on from our move to Coombe Mill and the business is still thriving and developingwith a clear paln still in place, are still best of friends and the children are all thriving and very much playing their part in the family business.  I thought it worth sharing the things that I feel have really made a difference for us in working successfully together in the hope that it may inspire others contemplating a move from employee to family business. 


a sucessful working partnership needs:


Belief in each other’s ability

Different areas of responsibility and accountablity

A shared vision

An abillity to switch off from work to enjoy shared family and couple time

                Family days out, thurlestone

A business you both feel pasionaltely about owning and developing 

A business that you can manage together around family life

Financial security

  I would avoid overstretching financially to begin a business, financial worries are a recipe for testion and trouble. Every business involves risk and usally borrowing but too much can bring stress which is difficult to mnage. Do the maths and make sure it is realistic!


I’m sure there are more, but these are the things that stand out for me as to why Coombe Mill has worked so well for Nick and I as a couple and as parents. If you can put answers to each of the above then I hope you will follow your dreams too.