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Til Death Do Us Part: Dallas entrepreneurs give tips on working with their partner

This is the time of year when love is in the air, candle-lit dinner tables are being booked, and we put aside the practical for the romantic. However, for the coupled owners of an estimated 3 million small businesses in the United States, it’s a bit harder to leave business at the front doorstep.

Launch DFW spoke with two couples – Manuel Valencia and Jacqueline Chen Valencia of CONNECTIVE Agency and Courtney and Tye Caldwell of ShearShare – about their advice to remaining balanced and successful in love, life and entrepreneurship.

Meet Manuel and Jacqueline Chen Valencia

In person, Manuel and Jacqueline, who have been married for 11 years, are both high energy, only differing in their underlying currents.

An MBA graduate from the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan, Manny was always attracted to working with companies in their early stages, from start up to IPO, and it’s reflected in how he engages: mentally connecting the dots between people, places and products.

Jacqueline’s background in corporate PR environments at Ogilvy, Adecco and Balfour Beatty is evident in her aura of calm authority. In their Common Desk Oak Cliff offices, they talked about how and why Jacqueline joined Connective Agency and what’s changed along the way.

After a corporate move from Baton Rouge, LA, Jacqueline found herself seeking a new experience after a career divided between agency life and Fortune 500 companies. Manny, who was just over two years into starting Connective Agency, suggested Jacqueline join him at the company in 2016.

“I’m super risk-averse, he’s Mr. Risk, entrepreneur…so even though the thought scared me, it also seemed really exciting. It was one of those things, if not now, then when?” Jacqueline said. “If you put a time parameter around it, it doesn’t seem so bad.”

The move wasn’t without its pros and cons; the idea of applying her skill set “unchained, untethered” excited her but the financial uncertainty of entrepreneurship was frightening as a person who enjoyed a biweekly paycheck all of her career.

“The potential con that turned into a positive was what it could potentially do to our relationship, our friendship and our marriage,” Jacqueline explained. “I wanted to make sure that we were both super clear up front that no matter what happened with the business that our marriage and our friendship would have to be protected and separated, like church and state. Home life and business life.”

Advice from Manny and Jacqueline

Invest in team building and culture

M: “We very intentionally invested in that [business relationship] when we started with a leadership coach to hear out loud and document how we work, what are the things we love to do and what are the things we don’t love to do…we do that each time a new member of the team joins.”

J: “Culture is so important. We spent 10 to 12 hours a day together, working really hard and having fun too. It’s important to know where each other’s boundaries are and where to push or not push each other.”

Have your own lane

J: “We have our own swim lanes and leverage each other’s strengths…it’s like a relay race [between the roles].”

See the rest of the story on the Launch DFW website.