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We Found Love In A Perfect Workplace: Sixtyeightfeet

Working with your partner is not supposed to be the done thing. It’s bound to ultimately end in both personal and professional disaster, right? This week, to tie in with Valentines Day, we’re profiling three businesses who prove that theory wrong. For these couples, mixing business with romance is a match made in heaven. 

We start off with Paul and Karen Sturrock. Married in 2001, with two daughters aged nine and five, they set up Sixtyeightfeet, a design and copywriting service for businesses and charities in 2015


How did you come to start a business together?

Paul: I began freelancing and had a project where there was a lot of content needed. Karen had communications experience so I suggested we work together.

Karen: Paul knew the client well and they were willing to take the risk! Whilst we feel like we fell into the business together, with hindsight and a lot of hard work, it totally makes sense.


How do you divide each other’s roles and responsibilities?

Karen: Our roles are determined by our strengths – mine for writing, and Paul’s for design. We both try to develop our own clients, as well as working on projects together. But of course, it goes beyond that too, because there’s the hard work of actually running the business day-to-day.

We just have to trust each other to do the thing we’re strongest at. Ultimately, we’ve both got things to do and by keeping in our own lane we make the most progress with the least chance of a collision!


How has the business grown in your time together? Have there been any particular milestones?

Karen: Paul built his side of the business with the contacts he had. But after that initial project together, I had to be very patient and persistent at finding my own clients. Having a bit of work under my belt made a huge difference to my confidence.

Paul: Our greatest milestone is being able to create a sustainable business for our family, that does good work we can be proud of.


How do you separate your professional and personal lives? Do you ever feel that you get the balance wrong?

Karen: We’re actually really intentional about this. Most of the time I work from home. And I’m often picking up the kids from school at the end of a working day, so once I’ve returned home I’m off duty. But it’s not always easy. And sometimes you want to talk about something work-related that’s difficult or funny just for the sake of it.

Paul: We try not to talk about work other than when we’re working. And we never have conversations about work in the bedroom. We do however set aside specific times to talk about what projects we’ve got in the week ahead. We’ll go out for coffee together just to plan ahead on things. Or we’ll ask for input from each other on a client’s response, a quote we’re providing, or even an email we’re drafting.


How do the highs and lows of business impact on your personal life?

Paul: It’s a rollercoaster!

Karen: We definitely feel it when business is slow. The financial impact on us gets very personal! But it’s rarely like that for both of us at the same time.

So whilst that can lead to a little professional jealousy on occasion, mainly we think of ourselves as pedals on a bicycle; if one is having to push and the other is riding the momentum, it still propels us forward, and it’ll be the other way round again before we know it!

Karen Sturrock Co-founder, SixtyEightFeet

What do you love about working together? And what don’t you like so much?

Karen: I love that we get to bring our best work to the table and create something special. We can say things to each other that we might not have the opportunity to say when we’re working in-house, and that brings out the best in us.

Paul: And we enjoy working on completely separate projects too. We can still rely on each other for a bit of constructive criticism but we both find our inspiration in different places. And since we’re doing creative work, that really matters. Otherwise, it all just becomes a bit of a chore.


What advice would you give to other couples thinking about starting a business together?

Paul: Think long and hard about it. It’s fun but really challenging. You will spend a lot of time together. It will test every aspect of your relationship.

Karen: I’d say go in with your eyes wide open. It will stretch your relationship in unexpected directions because there’s a constant challenge to do things your own way. But recognising and appreciating each other’s insight and strengths is key for us.


What’s the biggest priority in your life: your partner or your business? Why?

Karen: Our relationship is a much bigger priority. Because that’s the real measure of success in our lives. We love what we do, but ultimately if the business went up in flames, it’s him I’d be hunting for in the wreckage.


Do you run a business with your partner? Share your story in the comments. 

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