Couples learn how to be romantic and business partners

NEW YORK — Debbie and Gary Douglas sometimes need to remind each other, this is your business partner talking.In business together for 16 years, the Douglases have found that being co-owners of a public relations firm requires them to be more direct with each other than they once were as spouses. Like the time Debbie Douglas was on a ladder in their Newport Beach, California, home and her husband told her to come down because she might break an ankle.“I said, ‘don’t worry about it.’ He said, “this is your partner speaking, you have a trade show to do next week and you can’t do it with a broken ankle!’” says Debbie Douglas, co-owner of Douglas Strategic Communications.Romantic partners who are also business partners can find there’s a lot of tough talk, listening, learning and compromising needed as they run a company, a personal relationship and often a family. Couples may have unique struggles depending on their personalities and the type of business they own. But there are common hotspots: Roles and responsibilities that aren’t well defined, vastly different styles of communication or decision-making and sometimes a clash of egos.While the Douglases know how to take a hard line with one another, they also know when to budge.“You yield to the other person if they are more qualified to make a decision,” Gary Douglas says. “You can’t have your own way every day, every time.”Ben Taylor and his wife Louise learned that lesson the hard way.“At the end of the first work day, my wife burst into tears and said, ‘I want to tell my husband how horrible my new boss is!’” Ben Taylor recalls. The problem was that the husband, who owned a technology consultancy, needed his wife’s help but wasn’t spelling out her role; he’d never really thought it through. Like many entrepreneurs, he also found it hard to relinquish some tasks.“I know I’m a bit of a control freak. It just didn’t jell — we just got irritated with each other,” says Ben Taylor, who also owns Homeworkingclub.com, an advice website for freelance workers based in Kent, England.The business partnership started in 2006 and failed in just a year. But the couple tried it again in 2013, this time with each of them handling specific responsibilities. She is a writer. He does the consulting and administrative tasks.“My wife would far rather be free to do work for her clients — essentially working in the business while I’m working on the business,” Ben Taylor says.Spouses who co-own companies say friction, while unpleasant in the moment, ultimately helps them strengthen their relationships.“We have learned to get through disagreements the old-fashioned way — through arguing and eventually coming to a compromise that one or both of us are happy with,” says Clinton Smith, who owns the retirement planning firm Government & Civil Employee Services with his husband, Galen Bargerstock.The couple founded the business in 2010, five years into their relationship. At first, it was rocky. Smith remembers the fights they had over who should be doing what. But the company, based in Indiana, Pennsylvania, thrived, and “this was when we knew no matter what, we had to keep working hard,” Smith says.They learned how to divide responsibilities according to each partner’s strengths; Bargerstock handles sales and Smith manages marketing.“We have grown both as a business, but also as a couple,” Smith says.Some couples go for help — not to a therapist, but a business coach. That’s how Wendy and Scott Schultz reconciled their differing styles that, as Wendy Schultz put it, turned decision-making into a battlefield.“I would see an opportunity to expand our business in the form of a new investment and would want to act quickly. He would see all of the reasons the investment could go wrong and wanted to take time to assess all the pros and cons,” says Wendy Schultz, CEO of The Simple Life Hospitality. The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company invests in and manages vacation rental properties; Schultz founded it in 2013 and her husband joined her in 2016.There was also tension between the couple over who was in charge, and the fact that running a business isn’t a 9-to-5 occupation, like the job Scott Schultz previously worked at. They began working with a coach to understand and change their dynamics.“There wasn’t a defining moment where we resolved our differences, but over time, we’ve found ways to make our styles complementary for the success of our business,” Wendy Schultz says. “Through our own trial and error, we’ve developed a happy medium.”Sometimes, working well together takes brutal honesty. Cynthia Smoot remembers struggling with her husband Randy for several years after she joined his advertising agency, Gangway Advertising, in 2008. They had an ongoing clash of egos and a hard time accepting each other’s point of view. She remembers one argument during which he was pretty blunt.“You want to do your own thing? What do you think you’re bringing to the table?” Cynthia Smoot recalls her husband saying. “Some things that I thought were strengths, he saw as weakness. That was an eye-opening exercise.”Part of the problem was too much closeness — being together 24/7 didn’t work. So, they transitioned from sharing a home office to two separate rooms in different parts of their house in Dallas.“I was as far away as I could get from him,” Cynthia says. “I told him, ‘don’t even come walking in here. Google-chat me!’”Now, she says, they share harmony and a successful company._____For more small business news, insights and inspiration, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here: http://discover.ap.org/ssb_____Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.comJoyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press read more

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British Airways seats to shrink as airline squeezes more passengers into Boeing

first_imgThere will now be four seats in the middle row of World Traveller Credit:Nick Morrish British Airways The tickets which are expected to be between 10 and 20 per cent cheaper, do not include checked luggage or seat selection and are designed to compete with Norwegian on popular routes to North America.It could mean that the cost of a return flight from London to New York could fall from £468 to between £375 and £420. Travellers can already fly from London to New York over the same dates for as little as £265 with Norwegian. There will now be four seats in the middle row of World Traveller  British Airways  refused to say what the new size of seats would be, but when its part-owner Qatar Airways ‘densified’ its own 777 economy seats, their width shrank from 18.5 inches to 17.Experts said the move, which adds 12 more seats into the World Traveller cabin, would make lengthy trips of up to 11 hours more uncomfortable and leave passengers feeling hemmed-in.“The drawback is a combination of physical discomfort and a sense of overcrowding,” said travel writer Simon Calder. A diagram showing the changes Credit:British Airways  However the company was forced to reintroduce a second hot meal and free snacks on long-haul flights after customer uproar when they removed them last year. Alex Cruz, the head of BA who was brought in from budget airline Vueling to cut costs, admitted that ‘mistakes had been made’On Tuesday the carrier announced that it was planning to launch no-frills “basic economy” fares on its long-haul flights. BA announced that screens would become larger, but refused to say how much smaller seats would beCredit:Nick Morrish British Airways  The revamped aircraft, which are scheduled to be in operation by this winter, will be flying on routes to Cancun in Mexico, the Dominican Republic resort of Punta Cana and the Jamaican capital, Kingston. “In April 2018, we will be introducing a new long-haul basic economy fare on selected transatlantic routes,” said BA in a statement.“The new fare will give customers a lower price point and more choice.”The airline also announced that travellers in the new 777 World Traveller Plus would enjoy new bespoke lighting to reflect the time of day, helping to lull travellers to sleep at night and wake them in the morning to combat jet-lag.Six hundred million pounds is also to be spent on Club World to improve catering and introduce bedding from The White Company.British Airways has also promised that wi-fi will be available on all flights within the next two years. But from next year, all British Airways long haul flights from Gatwick will use the new layout.The announcement is the latest in a series of changes at the airline which is struggling to compete with budget rivals. In January 2017, BA stopped free food on short-haul flights and introduced a range of paid-for Marks & Spencer sandwiches and snacks, to the consternation of passengers.The following March the airline announced it was reducing legroom from 30 inches to 20 inches on its A320 and A321 Airbus aircraft. Fresh flowers were also scrapped in the First Class Toilets as well as a complimentary amuse-bouche on boarding. Show more Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. BA announced that screens would become larger, but refused to say how much smaller seats would be A diagram showing the changes  British Airways passengers will be squeezed into narrower seats, after the beleaguered airline said it will add an extra passenger space into economy rows on some aircraft.This week the company unveiled its ‘make-over’ for World Traveller section on its Boeing 777 long haul fleet flying from Gatwick Airport.But although BA announced ‘elegant new seats’ with entertainment screens that are 50 per cent larger, they failed to mention that economy passengers will be sitting in spaces that are nearly 10 per cent smaller.The World Traveller section will now contain 10 seats per row, instead of nine, moving from a 3-3-3 formation to a 3-4-3 design, which according to industry experts, will bring the size of long haul seats down by 1.5 inches.last_img read more

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