Does working with your spouse sound like a dream or a nightmare? There have been case studies and data crunchers who have tried to come up with a definitive answer. One Danish study claims entrepreneurial couples make more money working together, while North Carolina researchers claim women in spousal teams end up with less control of the marital businesses they co-found or co-own. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 53 percent of family-run businesses are spousal teams. Despite the potential pitfalls, millions of couples are doing it and doing it exceedingly well.
Any Lab Test Now, one of the nation’s leading direct access lab franchises, is proud to boast more than a few power couples who prove owning and running a business together is a great way to continue building your dreams together. Whether embarking on the entrepreneurial journey later in life or getting in on the ground floor, these three couples — with nine children and nearly 80 years of marriage between them — prove there is (good) living after leaving the corporate rat race.
Tom and Carrie Powers – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Customer service has always been Carrie Powers’ calling card. In fact, it was the handwritten thank you notes she sent as manager of a Coach retail store that resulted in a customer becoming her husband! Now going on 20 years of marriage, Carrie and Tom are setting the standard for Any Lab Test Now franchisees by serving as a training site to help others achieve the success they have in just two short years as franchise owners.
“We get busier every day; our numbers are really good. We give really good customer service and a great experience,” says Carrie, who takes special pride in their growing bank of five-star reviews (178 and counting).
But she admits that, initially, Tom had to convince her to jump on board. After a long career in medical sales for large corporations, Tom was ready to trade in mergers, acquisitions, and weekly business trips for nightly dinners with his wife and three kids and a business to call his own. From the beginning, he knew he wanted a lab business because he saw the need in the healthcare industry. But Carrie was an HGTV girl and was more interested in house flipping. That is, until she took the time to learn more about the business and the way insurance works. The more she learned, the more invested she became, and the more she saw how her own unique skills and talents could contribute to its success. The clincher was when they visited a store in Dallas and saw firsthand what the day-to-day operations looked like.
“I thought, ‘Oh, we can totally do this. And we can do it really well and make it a great customer experience.’ I’m in,” she declared. And now their Tulsa store is a training site for other franchisees.
In addition to creating a great atmosphere, Carrie handles operations and focuses on what she does best — provide great customer service, and Tom focuses on what he does best — sales and marketing. Together, they work to offer a welcoming, non-judgmental experience for their clients, even if it means coming in after hours.
Even though they didn’t start out with a plan to go into business together, they had no hesitation adding “business partner” to their moniker.
“We get along really well, so it’s fun,” said Carrie. “We don’t take each other for granted, and our strengths complement each other, and we let go of the things that aren’t a big deal — just like in life.”
Plus, it’s hard to beat an improved quality of life that has Tom off the road and taking over grocery duties. Now the Powers, named Tennis Family of the Year for Oklahoma by the United States Tennis Association, have more time to play tennis together, and the whole family benefits from Mom and Dad’s business partnership.
Best Advice: Stay in your lane. Pick your battles. Give each other time to do your own thing so you don’t get resentful. You both need time for yourself.
Randi and Lloyd Beesing – Jacksonville, Florida
After years of talking about owning their own business, Randi and Lloyd Beesing didn’t just dip their toes in last year; they jumped in with both feet! The couple bought two territories in Jacksonville, Florida, opened one location in February, seized the unexpected opportunity to take over an existing store just eight months later, and a third location is still on the horizon.
“We have grown faster than expected,” laughs Randi. “But this is a perfect fit for us, it’s right in our wheelhouse, and right in our neighborhood.”
They’ve had a few unexpected twists in their entrepreneurial journey. The original plan was for Randi to leave her job first, and then Lloyd would join her later. But when his company offered him an early retirement, they swapped positions but stayed on course.
Randi and Lloyd both had/have careers in the healthcare industry. Lloyd was the director of operations for a healthcare IT company for more than 20 years, and Randi still works in medical sales and diagnostics. Once they learned what Any Lab Test Now does, and knowing firsthand how the health insurance industry is changing, they considered an investment into the direct access lab company a no-brainer. They divvy up the workload by playing to each other’s strengths. Lloyd does the day-to-day running of the lab and financials, and Randi handles sales and marketing in addition to her other full-time job. Their faith in each other and the structure and support that comes with buying into a franchise gave them even more confidence that they could forge their own path.
“We are yin and yang. Our strengths come from each other’s weaknesses, so we are a great complement,” said Randi. “We let each other make decisions in our areas of expertise, and we don’t tell each other how to do things. Balance sort of naturally happens that way.”
After living in the corporate world, where your future can change direction at a moment’s notice and at someone else’s discretion, their shared dream of financial freedom and not being tied to an office every day fuels their daily appreciation for each other and what they are building together.
“The opportunity to get out of corporate America and be in control of our future, and have a residual income as we head into our retirement years, is such a blessing,” Randi said. “We love that we have the freedom to make our own decisions and create something that will be successful.”
Married almost 30 years, the Beesings have learned that the same things that make a marriage successful can make running a business together successful. Fortunately, when they speak of each other, they use words like amazing, phenomenal, loyal, and passionate — and that keeps both of them motivated to keep on working for one another and with one another.
Best Advice: Respect each other’s experience and strengths and don’t tell each other how to do things. Set aside time when you agree NOT to talk about the business.
Mark and Julie Frost – Springfield, Missouri
Their hometown of Springfield, Missouri, may not be big (pop. 167,376) but that hasn’t stopped Mark and Julie Frost from building one of the top five performing stores in the Any Lab Test Now family. When you are a family business, and you treat people like family, you can count on 70 percent of your customers being repeat business. That has allowed the Frost’s to flourish in their relatively small community.
When Mark and Julie cashed out a 401k more than 10 years ago to invest as the 10th franchisee of Any Lab Test Now, some might have called it a risky move. But Mark had grown up in an entrepreneurial family, and after 30 years traveling all 50 states as part of the pharmaceutical industry, he had grown weary of corporate America, had plenty of contacts with hospitals and doctors, and could see the appeal for direct access lab tests. After researching different franchise opportunities and learning about Any Lab Test Now, he came home and exclaimed to Julie, “We have to do this!”
In the last 10 years, the market has created an even greater demand for direct access lab services, and the Frosts haven’t looked back. They always shared the same goals and vision for the company, realizing what it could provide for their family and community even if they didn’t see eye to eye on everything. One crucial key to their success in working together is the commitment to making all financial decisions together and talking through disagreements instead of avoiding the tough talks.
Three years ago, Julie left her teaching job to be in the store full time. She covers the front while Mark works in the back, often seeing 50–60 customers a day. They have chosen to run the store completely on their own, not hiring any employees, although all four of their children have spent time helping make it a true family business. The Frosts run a tight ship, right down to Mark being able to rattle off their overhead price per minute, daily ($1.18).
They describe each other as focused, visionary, and perfectionists. That goal-oriented nature keeps them on track for success, with an eye toward the future when they plan to enjoy more time off. But for now, they are a team with a “never say die” attitude.
“The most rewarding thing is to see how far we have come in building this, that we can compete in sales with stores in big cities, and that we are considered family by our customers,” said Mark. “Success is our mindset.”
Julie adds, “He makes me laugh, so even though it’s our business, he makes working together fun.”
Best Advice: Set daily goals together. Look for the good and find a way to keep it fun. Whatever you choose in life, it has to be fun or it’s not worth doing.
All of these power couples agree, one of the best things about owning a business with their spouse is that together they are doing important work, impacting their communities, and making a real difference in their customers’ lives, and that is a beautiful thing to share with the one you love.