A couple who have stayed together through 6 company launches share their secrets for balancing serial entrepreneurship with a happy marriage
Married couples have launched and led many successful companies in industries as varied as healthcare, consumer products, and professional services. Bryan and Shannon Miles have founded several successful businesses and are launching a leadership consultancy this year. Business Insider sat down with the Mileses and asked them to share their best advice for romantic partners wanting to become business partners. Visit BI Prime for more stories.
Cofounding a startup is often compared to marriage, but for some business partners the relationship is literally "till death do us part." Married couples have successfully launched companies in industries ranging from health services to consumer products, such as Dr. Shari Sperling and Ari Katz of Sperling Dermatology, Justin Joffe and Alexandria Ketcheson of Henry the Dentist, and Rosie O'Neill and Josh Resnick of the luxury candy maker Sugarfina. Bryan and Shannon Miles have been married for 22 years and in business together for the past decade. Together they founded and led five virtual-services businesses (which they combined in 2017) as well as a craft brewpub. This year, they are launching a leadership consultancy called Own Not Run, which aims to help business owners guide their companies toward self-sufficiency. The Mileses sat down with Business Insider and shared five insights for couples thinking about starting a business together. Put the relationship before the business The Mileses take their businesses very seriously, but they are unequivocal about their top priority. "Ultimately, what we're aiming at is not great businesses," Bryan said. "We're aiming at a great marriage and a great family. We're looking at something that's a vision of us in our 70s and 80s." The Mileses said they had built all of their businesses in a way that allowed them to focus on their children and on each other. Don't jump into anything too quickly Shannon and Bryan were married for more than 10 years before starting their first joint business, and they said the time spent developing their professional identities outside their relationship was instrumental to their success. Shannon relayed the advice she gave to an entrepreneur she mentored who wanted to bring her fiancé into a new business idea. "Don't do it. It's a bad idea," Shannon told the bride-to-be. "Y'all are just getting married. There's enough other things going on, and I really think you should wait a little while before you go into business together." Treat each partner as truly equal Startup experts typically recommend that one cofounder be a little more than equal to prevent deadlocked decisions, but the Mileses counsel against that arrangement for business and romantic partners. "Go in as equals and as peers," Bryan said. "The more you can approach it from an equal standpoint, the more rewarding it can be as a couple. It's a joy to do this together." The Mileses applied a similarly egalitarian approach to their management style. "As much as we were talking about deferring to each other, as we grew we actually deferred to other members of the team," Shannon said. Establish clear communication and boundaries Most of the time, the boundary between work and home life is fluid for the Mileses, but they set some new ground rules after one episode Shannon described as "the dark night of the soul for me in business ownership." One night in August 2016, Bryan had an epiphany he couldn't shake that would involve a major shift in their agreed-upon business strategy. He wanted to integrate their five businesses into one, and Shannon felt ambushed. They struggled for weeks to get on the same page. "Tensions were really, really high and we were raw emotionally," Shannon said. "We had to set up boundaries and say, 'I'm not talking about our companies while we're having dinner this week — we can talk about business during business time.'" Shannon said those boundaries were "really important." Be willing to compromise The Mileses' commitment to coequal leadership meant Bryan would have to be patient. "It was very heartbreaking for me," he said. "I really wanted to do this with her, but I needed her to embrace it. I don't want to do this by myself." Openness to compromise is a principle they apply in their relationship and businesses alike. "If you want to grow something out," Bryan said, "you're going to have to check the ego. Someone else gets to be the hero." "The older I get, and the longer we're married, I genuinely appreciate how different we are as people," he continued. "Honest to God, celebrating differences is a really wonderful thing."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Taylor Swift is the world's highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $360 million.
More like this (3)
Two millennial women just won $100,000 to scale their vegan ice cream business. Here’s how they perfected their ‘scoopable’ banana-based recipe and landed their pints on Whole Foods shelves.
Stacy's Rise Project awarded $100,000 in funding to Hannah Hong, cofounder of Hakuna Brands. Hong and...Stacy's Rise Project awarded $100,000 in funding to Hannah Hong, cofounder of Hakuna Brands. Hong and her cofounder Mollie Cha became lactose intolerant in their early 20s and out of their love for indulgent desserts, launched Hakuna Brands to make oat-milk and banana-based ice cream. Hakuna's leadership is entirely women and three of the four used to be coworkers at Bolthouse Farms. Hong talked to Business Insider about building a team she loves and how she's overcome imposter syndrome. Click here for more BI Prime content. When Hannah Hong and Mollie Cha started their "nice-cream" business, they knew they were taking their friendship to higher stakes. They were already maids of honor at each other's weddings and now they were about to be business partners. In 2016, the University of California, Berkeley, grads quit their jobs and went all-in on dairy-free ice cream to launch Hakuna Brands. "We both agreed that the minute our business gets in the way of our friendship and there's any sort of resentment or any negative feeling where we feel like we can't be on this with each other, the business is over," Hong said. She and Cha have disagreements and different points of view, but Hong said they always come to an understanding. "It's just like a marriage, you know, you can fight but you can still be married," Hong said. Now, the pair has an exciting new opportunity to agree upon: how to invest $100,000 for their business. On November 4, Padma Lakshmi, host of "Top Chef," awarded Hakuna Brands the grand prize for Stacy's Rise Project, a funding and mentorship program designed to help close the funding gap for women business owners. Hakuna sells vegan ice cream made with oat milk and bananas, making a beloved dessert easier on lactose-intolerant stomachs — and a lighter option for any ice cream lover. The brand is capitalizing on major food trends like the paleo diet and the recent explosion of oat milk. Hakuna's banana ice creams come in six flavors and three frozen bars, including cashew cookie dough, banilla, and strawberry. The oat-milk based ice creams, which launched in early 2019, come in peanut butter, vanilla, and chocolate. Business Insider spoke with Hong after her win. She was proud to be wearing a pink, banana-covered t-shirt as she posed for press photos with Lakshmi and a giant check. "I know it's not the coolest thing to wear in front of Padma, but I'm not giving up the opportunity to wear my branded t-shirt in this photo," said Hong. She'll do whatever it takes to advance her business. "This is my first born, this is my baby, and there is nothing I won't do for it," Hong said. Hakuna Brands is based in Los Angeles and led by four women — three of whom were former colleagues at Bolthouse Farms, a producer of green smoothies and carrot juice. Hong and Cha were best friends in undergrad and later worked together at Bolthouse in strategy and innovation, developing new product ideas. They both became lactose intolerant in their early 20s and launched their banana-based ice-cream brand out of their love for indulgent desserts. Hong left her job at Bolthouse at the beginning of 2016 and Cha left hers about a month before they established the company on Halloween of 2016. Nailing down the recipe and finding a factory It took a while for Hong and Cha to perfect their first recipe, which was inspired by paleo "nice-creams" that use frozen bananas instead of dairy. "You can't just put that in a pint and then sell it. It literally turns into a block of banana ice," Hong said. The women tested several iterations in their home kitchens until they found the right, "scoopable" texture. Learning how to make the ice cream was one of their biggest obstacles, since it uses ingredients most dairy-based manufacturers aren't as familiar with. "Most ice cream that's sold commercially, it's made one way and all factories are built to make it that way," Hong said. They moved their operations to a small, commercial kitchen and sold their pints (which were labeless deli containers at first) from a freezer in a van they named "Fran," driving down the southern California coast from Thousand Oaks to San Diego several times a week. But eventually, they needed to scale. Their next major obstacle was finding a factory that could replicate their recipe — they tried three facilities before landing the right one. "Moving from our tiny hundred-foot square kitchen to a factory was one of the hardest things I've ever done," Hong said. The trial-runs required a lot of money, Hong said, which included paying for ingredients and the time spent on the manufacturing line. Each batch had to freeze for 24 hours before they could taste it, so they could see how the ice cream hardened. "We had to go through so much to even figure out how to build a frozen business," Hong said. Best friends and business partners Both Hong and Cha come from families who started their own businesses, so they learned second-hand that it can be difficult to run a business with friends or family. The founders are best friends first and foremost. Before making their business official and signing the LLC papers, they talked about their priorities for both the business and their relationship. In 2018, they added to their full-time team. Grace Robbin became director of product development, and Margie Clark became director of sales and marketing. Hong worked with Clark for four years when they were at Bolthouse. Hong said she's learned how important is it to choose her team wisely, especially as a small business. "One person can have a huge impact on your company, and so picking that person has to be done very thoughtfully," said Hong. Getting over imposter syndrome At one point during the factory-trial process, Hong said she felt imposter syndrome setting in. The factories were primarily owned and operated by men, and Hong said that intimidated her. She knew how her recipe was supposed to turn out, but the manufactured product wasn't right. "I knew it was different. It wasn't just in my head," Hong said. After three factories didn't work out, she realized she needed to be more confident in her product. When the next factory told her "this is just how your ice cream is," she overnight-shipped a pint from Hakuna's kitchen. Once the factory workers tasted it, she said they realized it was different. "I think that really helped me build my confidence," Hong said. In January 2017, Hakuna started selling in grocery stores — its first retailer was an independent grocer in Los Angeles. Today, the brand is sold in 430 California locations, including Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market. Hakuna was bootstrapped until January 2019, when it held a friends and family funding round. Now with its funding from Stacy's, Hong said the brand plans to boost in-store efforts to gain new customers, buy social media ads, and expand production to a factory on the East Coast.SEE ALSO: Women founders and CEOs share 9 hard truths about raising capital all small businesses need to know SEE ALSO: Women entrepreneurs talk about the frustrations they face when starting a business, and how they've handled challenges like limited access to funds Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Taylor Swift is the world's highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $360 million.
Jennifer Lawrence reportedly married art dealer Cooke Maroney. People first reported the news. The couple's relationship...Jennifer Lawrence reportedly married art dealer Cooke Maroney. People first reported the news. The couple's relationship was revealed by Page Six in June 2018 and their engagement was made known in February 2019. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. Jennifer Lawrence reportedly married art gallerist Cooke Maroney. The 29-year-old "X-Men" star wed Maroney on Saturday in Newport, Rhode Island, People reported. People reported that Lawrence wore a Dior dress, and held a wedding reception for 150 guests at the lavish 1894 Belcourt of Newport mansion. The attendees reportedly boasted a number of celebrities, including Adele, Amy Schumer, Kris Jenner, Emma Stone, Ashley Olsen, and more. Confirmation of their marriage follows Lawrence releasing her Amazon wedding registry to the public in September. Her list featured various travel essentials and products for the couple's home. In mid-September, Page Six reported that the couple was seen at a courthouse in New York City, joined by "two security guards, a photographer, and another friend." The outlet reported that an eyewitness said they spotted Lawrence at the courthouse in a now-deleted tweet. Read more: Jennifer Lawrence says fiancé Cooke Maroney is the 'greatest person I've ever met.' Here's everything we know about their relationship. According to Page Six, the couple was introduced through mutual a friend named Laura Simpson. Lawrence's relationship with Maroney, who's the director of New York City's Gladstone Gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, was reported in June 2018. In February 2019, representatives for Lawrence confirmed engagement reports to INSIDER. Lawrence opened up about her relationship with Maroney while appearing on Catt Sadler's podcast, called "NAKED with Catt Sadler." "He's the greatest human being I've ever met," the actress said. "He really is and he gets better. I started with the basics: How do I feel? Is he nice? Is he kind? He's just the one. I know it sounds really stupid, but he's the greatest person I've ever met, so I feel very honored to become a Maroney." The Oscar winner went on to say that she'll probably legally change her last name, but will still go by Lawrence. The actress added that when she met Maroney, she "wasn't at a place where I was like, 'I'm ready to get married.'" "I just met Cooke and I wanted to marry him," she said. "We wanted to marry each other. We wanted to commit fully. He's my best friend, so I wanted to legally bind him to me forever." Read more: THEN AND NOW: The cast of 'The Hunger Games' 7 years later Every single Jennifer Lawrence movie, ranked 36 photos that show how Jennifer Lawrence's style has evolved over time Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Nxivm leader Keith Raniere has been convicted. Here's what happened inside his sex-slave ring that recruited actresses and two billionaire heiresses.