February 15, 2010
From co-workers to spouses to business partners
This weekend, an article I wrote about two Seattle-area couples who met at work and wound up tying the knot appeared in the Seattle Times. One of the couples, Kris Hoots and Steve Thomas, talked about how they initially took great pains to keep their personal life separate from their office life. They didn't want to appear unprofessional, and they didn't want to distract their colleagues from the daily business at hand.
[Photo courtesy of Kris Hoots and Steve Thomas of Oneicity]
Only problem was, the couple worked at a small agency where many co-workers regarded one another as family. And to several of these co-workers, the idea of two colleagues tying the knot was so enchanting that they began announcing in meetings that the pair had gotten married. That is, until Hoots and Thomas politely asked their exuberant colleagues to put the kibosh on this.
Then, after 15 years with the company, Hoots left her job and with Thomas' help started Oneicity, a consulting firm that provides fundraising solutions for religious and non-profit organizations. Oneicity has generated so much business since its 2008 inception that this month, Thomas will leave the employee life behind and join Hoots in working for the business full time.
To say the pair is thrilled about their business partnership would be an understatement.
"We love working together," Thomas gushed. "It's a terrific joy for us."
Of course, going into business together meant the pair once again faced the pesky matter of deciding whether to come clean with clients about being married. At first the couple opted to keep their relationship status on the down low until clients and colleagues got to know them better. They wanted their growing company to be judged on its own merit, and they thought revealing that they were husband and wife from the get-go would be distracting.
"But, then," Thomas said, "we kept running into business owners who were married," from customers to vendors to other professionals in their line of work. That's when the pair realized they could afford to be less tight-lipped about their personal partnership. In fact, last June, the couple wrote about their marital status on their business blog, saying, "For the record, we're married," and, "One of the greatest blessings in our lives is getting to work together."
How about you? If you and your significant other are in business together, do you play up your relationship status in your marketing materials and new client meetings? Do you go out of your way to cloak your personal relationship from customers, vendors, and colleagues? Has your relationship status helped or hurt your business image, or has it not made one bit of difference?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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