Transcript: A Business Couples Secret Sauce (EP39)
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Brendan Rogers: Hello, everybody. I'm Brendan Rogers, the host of The Culture of Things podcast. And this is Episode 39.
Today, I'm talking with Marcus Nicholls and Ariel Endean. Marcus and Ariel are Business Coaches and Consultants, Speakers, Authors, and occasional relationship rescuers.
They've been in Business and a relationship for a quarter of a century. During that time, they've bought, built, managed, and sold a seven-figure business without it costing them their relationship.
Business Couples Success was born from those years where, at times, they struggled and could have really benefited from a strong, supportive community of like-minded entrepreneurial Business Couples.
They work directly with Business Couples to maximise their profits, improve their systems, and strengthen communication throughout their business and relationship.
They also run a Podcast called, “Business Couples Secret Sauce”, where they interview successful Business Couples to get their tips, tricks, and stories, and how they have built a successful business without destroying their relationship.
Their goal is to help Business Couples get the same level of Wealth, Health, and Happiness into their lives that they have.
They believe that gaining knowledge and implementing what you learn is key to any Business Couples Success, which is why they call themselves ‘learners of life’. Courses, books, podcasts, events, conferences, business network groups are all part of what helps them be a happier, more successful business couple, which in turn, helps the clients they work with.
Their motto, “Stronger together”, means you achieve more with the person you love most right by your side in Business and Life.
The focus of our conversation today is uncovering the secret sauce for business couples.
Marcus and Ariel, welcome to The Culture of Things podcast.
Marcus Nicholls: Lovely Brendan, thank you for inviting us on. I’m thoroughly looking forward to being grilled. (Laughing)
Ariel Endean: Yeah. Yeah, thank you. (Laughing)
Brendan Rogers: (Laughing) Look, it's again, it's a pleasure having you, guys. Thanks again for coming to my home and spending the morning with us having a bit of a chat. What I'd just love for you guys to share a little bit about, Ariel, if you just want to share, you've got your own podcast. We mentioned it in the introduction. Tell us a bit about that experience and what it's about.
Ariel Endean: Yeah, so Business Couples Secret Sauce came about because Marcus and I have been a Business Couple for the last quarter of a century, and we found there was unique challenges and benefits in being in that space. And as you mentioned in the intro, we're learners for life. So we've gone to a lot of business conferences and events and networks, and we absorb business documentaries and books and all of those things and follow a lot of leaders in business and thought leaders and whatnot. And we just found no one was talking about Business Couples even though they make up a huge proportion of businesses. And also, the sad side of that is that a lot of businesses, a lot of relationships crash and burn in that process of being a Business Couple. So it's double the risk, you know. Not only can your business fail, but your relationship can fail too. Or you have great business success, but the relationship fails. So we just wanted to create something I guess. We thought, you know, like if there's a void there, we could, you know, share our knowledge, but not just our experience, but interview other Business Couples about their story and their tips and tricks and hacks and get more success and strong, healthy, happy relationships out there.
Brendan Rogers: Yeah. Well done. Look, I've listened to a number of episodes that you guys are doing a really good job, really relaxed environment that you've got and setting up with the people that you're interviewing. Marcus, what are you loving about doing the podcast?
Marcus Nicholls: I'm loving meeting people. I mean, it's just fabulous to meet other Business Couples and hear a bit about their story and their journey. And it's a reminder there's, you just, there's so many lessons and everyone has a slightly different approach to how they actually handle being a Business Couple, which is really interesting. And also, that the lessons of being in business, that we have as many failures as we do have. If not more failures, then we do actually have wins. And that's just the journey and the process of being a business owner.
Brendan Rogers: You mentioned the word story. Just explaining that. So how about you start first, give us a bit of the backstory of yourself and Ariel, this super team that you guys are.
Marcus Nicholls: (Laughing) We originally met, I'm an ex-Chef and Ariel was front of house. And we met at a restaurant on the Hawkesbury River, which was very lovely, boat access only. And sort of jumped in within a very short period of time. We had a child on the way, and just yeah, developed ourselves. I wanted to get out of cooking. I'd been cooking for 10 years at that point. So I decided that it was an opportunity to run my own business. I always had people around me who were, I always worked for people who ran their own businesses in smaller restaurants. I never did the large hotel sort of networks. So I was really infused to want to embrace that industry or not the industry, but to embrace running my own business. So I was gung ho to do that. I just didn't know exactly what it is I wanted to do.
So yes, I started a business here on the Central Coast. Interesting enough, about 25 years ago. And then, we decided to, we wanted to grow. So we actually took on an investor. And through that process, we then bought a boarding kennel in the Hunter Valley and moved our family up to that and spent the next 20 years developing that from what was an old rundown kennel, built a complete new complex, including water fun parks for the dogs and hotel rooms with aircons and single beds and roast chicken dinners and ice cream for the dogs. And, you know, all those sort of luxury items that you expect these days or people expect for their animals. And yeah, and then went about sort of building all the processes and things that went through that until the point that we then decided it was time to move on and find a new adventure, which is why we sold, so.
Brendan Rogers: Ariel, how about you share your version of events of how you guys met?
Ariel Endean: (Laughing) Is that assuming it's different? (Laughing)
Brendan Rogers: Well, you know. (Laughing)
Ariel Endean: (Laughing) Well, we, I do joke that I got into this entrepreneurial mess because of Marcus. Because he had a strong drive to be his own boss and to create his own income. And I probably could have just chucked along doing, you know, working with someone as long as I liked where I was. However, now I'm now infected with (laughing) - thanks, Marcus. No. Look, there's unique challenges. Like running a business is hard, you know, like there's a lot, it's a lot easier to just show up at work, do a good job and go home. And you know, most bosses think you're a bit of a superhero if you're just doing a little bit above average job, which, you know, we always did. And entrepreneurs tend to be those people that work good and hard for someone else and see things and bring improvements and all of that, you know, they're just doing it for someone else.
I initially was just there to be supportive of Marcus. And then, along the way, just step by step, inch by inch, got there. And interestingly, interviewing Business Couples, we've found that’s often the way. It's rarely two people that go, “Yeah. Let's just go do this together.” It's more that it's one person's big vision and the other person's sort of a side helper and then a bit more and a bit more. And then, you know, they are a couple in business. But that having been said, once you get there, it's amazing. I mean, I get to hang out with the person I love most all day. Why wouldn't I, why would I want to go somewhere else for eight hours and travel time as well? So, no look, his story of events is the same. Yeah. Yeah.
Marcus Nicholls: Got to get some things right.
Ariel Endean: Yeah. I guess just living out the bit of where we’ve got to now. So we sold that business after 25 years, and you know, we're still reasonably young, and we love business, and we love the whole area of entrepreneurism and people having a crack at it and succeeding, and, you know, creating their own wealth and reality and lifestyle. And we thought, “Well, we know a bit about this.” So, you know, let's share that. And we also were driven to want to create a business for our own benefits as well, where we could travel and being able to share our Business Couples Success and other people's business couple success was an obvious, it just ticked all the boxes. You know, we could help people. We could do it remotely. We could travel while we did it. And also, yeah, as I said before, just fill a void. Like we really feel like there's a lot of business couples out there that are doing it tougher than they need to be doing it because they're just lacking a little bit of knowledge on how to do a better job of it, which would bring the stress down and the profit up.
Brendan Rogers: I just want to make one comment, which was just really surprising to me. And I love it. It sounds like, normally, the female is infiltrating the male's head in a relationship, but it sounds like your thoughts and business ideas have infiltrated the female head, Marcus. How the hell did you do that?
Ariel Endean: Jedi mind tricks.
Marcus Nicholls: Yep, that's it. You know, I took early learning classes on how to master the art of the female space.
Brendan Rogers: Mate, you and I need to talk after this. I need help. (Laughing)
Look, let's get into the journey, I guess, from not necessarily, obviously, the experience you share is related to your own journey. But we really want to use this opportunity ‘cause you guys have got a lot of experience. Again, quarter of a century there, 25 years built a really successful business and sold on that. And now, you're helping others. What's some early advice you give to couples, Business Couples or couples that are even before they're in business, why they want to go into business together? What do they need to be really clear on? Marcus?
Marcus Nicholls: From my point of view is that they need to be really clear on their why. Why do they want to be in business together? That's the first part. The second part of that is, as a Business Couple, how strong is your relationship? Is there things that aren't quite right? Because when you enter the business world, it ramps up the relationship stress level to a whole other level, like having children and things like that. So you wanting to be making sure that you've got that comfortable and your discussion, your communication is really, really strong because if it's not, it's just going to come undone. But yeah, certainly the why is a really big issue because if your why’s not there, then where you end up is not going to be where you're thinking. And sometimes, what happens is people's why's are different. So, the male’s why maybe this, but the female why’s this, you know. And it could be around the amount of hours they want to put into the business. It could be around the length of time they want the business to run for. It's a whole raft of those sorts of things, which is why it's really important to go through that. And goals, I guess, would come into that as well, so.
Ariel Endean: Yeah, I'd call it the vision as well. Like the why and the vision sort of overlap in some spaces. But you know, your why you want to go into it and then what your vision is for the business, you know, in the short term and the longer term, so that you can be clear that you're on the same page with each other.
Brendan Rogers: In your business, the Business Couples Success consultancy you have now, have you ever had an opportunity to engage with a couple that are thinking about going into business? So that early stage of their, you know, “We're not quite sure, but we need to have a chat with somebody and get some coaching”?
Ariel Endean: Sadly, less so. Just because people tend to think, they don't know what they don't know, you know, unfortunately, so, you know, usually you learn retrospectively. (Laughing) Unfortunately, I know that now. It's probably more casually people say, “Oh, you know, my husband and my wife, you know, my husband and I are thinking about doing a cafe,” more of conversationally when we meet people socially or business events and things. And it's like, “Well, you don't this or this.” And they're like, “Hmm.” So you can tell they haven't thought about it. We do, but more so, people that are already there and it's not turning out how they were expecting it to turn out. You know, it's more pressure, more stress or not enough customers or they're fighting or they're overwhelmed or yeah, different things. So less so pre- would you say that?
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah, absolutely less of the pre. Most of the pre- is really just conversations. It's really just sort of, you know, where you're meeting people and you're having those conversations with people and it's more, they don't, haven't thought to engage us at that point, which really would make a great deal of benefit if they did for their wellbeing overall. So, yeah. The people that have a tendency to engage are so much further along the path and usually, it's because they've hit a brick wall.
Ariel Endean: But we are hoping, and I think it is the case. And as it develops more that the podcast, Business Couples Secret Sauce, is a great thing for people who are dreaming about being a Business Couple, to be hearing Business Couples saying, you know, some of their wins, some of their successes, some of their disasters, what they've done to be successful and made it through certain points. And yeah, certainly, that's a good spot where people that are thinking about being a business couple can get great tips and advice without having the cost, I guess, of or the commitment of one-to-one coaching.
Brendan Rogers: Let's talk about the contrast of say, strengths and weaknesses first of all because let's pull on your own experiences. Running a successful business for 25 years - done really well. So you must have complimented each other fairly well in some areas.
Ariel, again, what would you say were the strengths that you bought to the business?
Ariel Endean: So for me, I'm a good creative thinker, you know, good lateral thinker and creative thinker. And I'm good with people like I'm good at reading people and understanding the interrelations between staff and people. I can see a lot of that sort of stuff and systems, creating systems, creating things like the structure of things. So yeah, they're probably my strengths. Certainly, with employing people, it's good to be able to read people well. I don't know. I always focus more on my weaknesses than my strengths, which is funny. (Laughing)
Brendan Rogers: Don’t worry, we'll get there. (Laughing)
Ariel Endean: But yeah. No. Look, being a lateral thinker is really good because it allows you to take solutions that are being, that have been made in other industries into your industry, because you're having that creative jump in your mind of thinking, “That could work in my situation in a different way,” you know. And you need to be a creative thinker to do that. And I also think it allows you to develop your business in ways that are not obvious or being done in the industry already. It also allows you to be more creative with marketing. So there's a lot of ways in which lateral thinking works with that. Also, quite a collaborative person, you know, I like working with other people. So that works well as a Business Couple as well. Yeah. Look, and I'm also very committed to quality and delivering something to someone that they've purchased off me, even when I worked for other people, I was really committed to someone, a customer getting what the experience they're meant to get, you know, or the product they're meant to get. So that's a really good attribute and I'll just, yeah, I just care about quality.
Brendan Rogers: Marcus, what did you bring to the table?
Marcus Nicholls: Not a great deal, I don't think. But anyway, my biggest strength was probably financial. Not that I'd run my own personal finances well but I really understood numbers. So I was able to create the spreadsheets and the budgets and all those aspects and run all the financial side of the business at a sort of higher level, which allowed us a lot of freedom and allowed us to get to where we wanted to get to. Outside of that, then, yeah, the usual bits and pieces like caring, being ethical, having a lateral mind. Again, I don't have the sort of creative mind necessarily like Ariel does, but I have more of a business lateral where I'll sort of dig into things a little bit more, and can go, “Okay. Yep. Yeah.” How can I utilise that from that aspect?
Ariel Endean: Hardworking.
Marcus Nicholls: And, yeah, workaholic. That's probably a strength. It's also a weakness. But it's certainly a strength when you're wanting to go into business. It's sort of, and quite, not necessarily one directional, but very obsessive in the sense that, you know, “Give me a bone and I'll make sure I finish it.” So yeah.
Ariel Endean: You will lock on and find a solution.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah. Yeah.
Brendan Rogers: Next question. Marcus, I'm putting you in the hot seat first. Mate, tell us a little bit about maybe something that Ariel maybe detracted from the level of performance. So maybe some of her weaknesses.
Marcus Nicholls: Loves sleeping in. (Laughing)
Ariel Endean: I love sleep.
Marcus Nicholls: (Laughing)
Brendan Rogers: I'm not sure sleep's a weakness is it? Like we need to replenish our body, don't we?
Marcus Nicholls: Well, there's replenishing the body and then there's 10 hours, you know, so let’s define that a little bit, but you know, yes, that's certainly one. Probably hot-headed, quick to react and a little bit of a hot-head. She's had to learn to reign that in. And usually, in our conversations, it's usually, if she fires, then I don't say much. I let her go through her space and then we can sit down and have a rational talk about it, so.
Ariel Endean: Yeah. In my defence, I'm not hot. I wasn't hot-headed with staff or neighbour disputes or whatever. I was hot-headed in terms of ranting at Marcus about said issue, so.
Brendan Rogers: (Laughing) Ariel, you're now going to get your chance. What is, if you had to pick one of Marcus’ key weaknesses, where would that be?
Ariel Endean: Probably, yeah, two. One, as he said, workaholic, which is, you know, look, it's a force for evil or good, you know, and it's also something that you need to get if you are that person. And quite often, an entrepreneur is or part of a Business Couple is, you need to be able to control the volume on that on yourself. Do you know what I mean? You need to be able to ramp it up and hence turn it back down when you want to have quality time with your family or your partner or, you know, yourself. So, I think it's a challenge. I think being a workaholic’s a challenge for someone, but how that hadn't been said, it's an awesome attribute at the front end of a business, because there is a massive amount of work to do often. So if you're, if you can clock long hours and hard days and you don't mind doing it, then that's great.
And the second would be probably a little bit too trusting, a little bit too caring, a little bit too trusting. And, you know, there's been stings, you know, just stings from that, from people taking advantage of that. I don't know if you can change who you are. I think that just is who you are, you know, but you can just learn from your mistakes, I guess. But yeah, probably just a tad too caring and trusting.
Brendan Rogers: Our interview will continue after this.
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Brendan Rogers: Red flags. Your glasses are making me think of red flags. I love those glasses.
Ariel Endean: (Laughing) Thanks.
Brendan Rogers: I want you guys to just share what are the red flags, Ariel, that you see in Business Couples that you walk away and you guys go and have a tea or some lunch together and think, “Well, this one's pretty challenging. I can't see this surviving.”
Ariel Endean: I don't think there's ever a, can't say this surviving, ‘cause it's hard to know when something sort of a bit fatally doomed, and what's just to do with the fact that there's just stress, too much stresses there that don't need to be there. But a red flag for me when people are in business is when they're overlapping too much. So they're both trying to do the same job or they're doing separate jobs, but they're over each other's shoulders too much when they don't need to be, you know. So one of the key things we've heard, we’ve found, and we've also heard over and over from other Business Couples that we've interviewed is to work out your lane and then stick with that, like play to your strengths.
So if you're, you know, Marcus was mentioning, he's the numbers guy. So, you know, he ran all the accounts and he created all of the future projections when we’re wanting to borrow and working out our profitability, you know, all that number stuff. Like I just, “That's totally not my skill set”. So he did that, but I didn't sort of want to check over that, you know. I didn't go over and I wasn't sort of wasting time on that. And conversely, I was more dealing with the staff because I was more of the people person, like in terms of recruiting and managing and just encouraging staff to do what we want them to do at the level we want them to do it. And Marcus wouldn't really be over my shoulder on that either.
You know, that having been said, you could, we'd still sort of weigh in here and there on things if we thought we could contribute something or if we thought the person was sort of off on something, but by and large, you're going, “That's what you do well”. I mean, not dissimilar to, if you employed someone to do it, like, you know, you employ a team around you, so they're good at what they do. So you don't do it, you know? So that's the whole idea. So that would be my big one. The red flag is when people are sort of all, either over each other's shoulders on their lanes, it's like, you know, work out what you do well, and then, do that well, and don't be over each other. That's a big red flag.
Marcus Nicholls: The other one that I would throw in there is around communication, the respect and communication within the couple. So if they're actually fighting at work or they’re talking down to each other, so they may not be fighting, but their verbal communication towards each other has quite strong context to it, that's a red flag. That's like, you know, ‘cause you’re disrespecting your partner in this workspace. So you're disrespecting them from all those sort of things. No one leaves that at work. That's going to come home with you. You've got to make sure that if that's going on, that's where it's like, “Okay, you guys need to pull back on this.” You need to find a strategy and a method that allows for that communication and to remove that reaction or because you might do it to a staff member, but you think you can do it to your partner. You think you can call your partner something that you wouldn't call a staff member that, and that's yeah, one of the really big red flags.
Brendan Rogers: Marcus, it's a great point. You've opened the door and I'm going to walk through it. Tell us about a situation that comes to mind where that's happened to you, guys. There's gotta be more than one occasion in 25 years, but what can you think of now to share?
Marcus Nicholls: The worst I'd probably got with Ariel was raising my voice. We were actually very, very good at never, I mean, we don't fight generally. So we’re one of those relationships that isn't in that space.
Ariel Endean: But we get niggly with it.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah, but.
Ariel Endean: What Marcus is talking about is a straight up hurling.
Marcus Nicholls: (Inaudible) Well, just yeah, being verbally abusive, I guess you would sort of say to each other. So we'd never had any of that. So the worst that we've probably had in that situation would be more just actually going back to which I hadn't realised one of going back to one of Ariel’s weaknesses, which is technology. It's an area that she really struggles with. And I get frustrated in having to explain the same thing and multiple times. So I'm likely to be not as when I'm showing her how to do it I’m likely to be more assertive than more like not calling her stupid, but just sort of speaking down to her a little bit, but I wouldn't do that to a staff member. And that's one area that, yeah, that I've had to work on because it's one of her weaknesses. So I've had to be more acceptable of that weakness and then find my space to be able to still give her the advice and the direction and all of that without putting that on her.
Ariel Endean: They both just looked at me then and raised their eyebrows. (Laughing)
Brendan Rogers: (Laughing) I wasn't sure. I thought you wanted to say something.
Ariel Endean: Let the witness speak. (Laughing) Look. Occasionally, we have stepped out in front of staff and got more stroppy with each other in front of staff or made a comment that's, you know, not as professional or respectful. And as soon as you know, you just, it's just like, you know, it's not the space, you know, like, “We can take this outside,” you know. So yeah. But by and large, we've been quite respectful to each other in the workplace and you just get to know each other's secret. You get to know each other's modes too really like with the ranting one for instance, when I rant, I want Marcus to be supportive in the rant and rant as well. But he finds ranting upsetting emotionally. So he, when I'm doing that, he tends to go the other way and go more subdued. And so, while I'm wanting him to rant with me, he's going subdued. And as he goes more subdued, I rant more until we end up at polar opposites and quite unhappy with each other. So it took a while to actually work out that one, what was going on and go, “Right, we're doing this. We're doing this thing we do.” (Laughing) So, I stop and I got to go rant to someone else or just I've had to rant and just wind it back down. And then, Marcus comes back to the middle and you know, we obviously end up discussing.
Brendan Rogers: I'm hearing some clear personality traits coming out from both of you here. Fantastic. I'm not going to go into that though. What I want to do go into though is those sort of examples you've used, I'd love for you guys to share some thoughts around and maybe, Ariel, you can do this first is share some thoughts where the relationship that you guys have both personally, and then leading into professionally, where that's worked really well, not only for yourselves, but more importantly, for the team and for the culture that you've created in your business.
Ariel Endean: Yeah. So, oh, gee, a few jump to mind. One is being hardworking. Like we properly showed up, working hard at the coalface with our staff.
Brendan Rogers: Is that when you woke up at 11 o'clock?
Marcus Nicholls: (Laughing) Love it, love it!
Ariel Endean: No. I used to get up at 6. If I had to get up, I do. Yeah, I can do it if I have to, but it's not my nature. It's not my, I'm a night owl, you know. So the other is having a really hardcore commitment to quality and that being a driver for ourselves and expecting that of staff, we would lead by example with that. So we made sure we crossed all our T's and dotted all our I's and we'd go back ourselves and do it again, or just go that extra effort to make sure that the service is better or the product is right-er, you know, and I mean, you've gotta be doing that. You can't expect your team to follow your advice to go the extra mile if you're not going the extra mile. So we were completely on that. You know, again, respect, we expected our staff and our team to respect each other, and we definitely showed that. And we showed respect to each other, but also to our staff. So we're strong on respect. Yeah. So there are three really key things that we have for ourselves that we would take into our coaching of our team.
Brendan Rogers: Marcus, I'm going to get you to do the flip side of that. Is there a situation, where potentially, because of the personal relationship you guys have, being a couple, where that may have had not always the desired impact on the business, the environment, the team, the culture?
Marcus Nicholls: Divide and conquer is one area. Yeah.
Ariel Endean: Yeah, staff can look to divide and conquer. Which, you can talk to that a little bit.
Marcus Nicholls: So the divide and conquer, it's a bit like children, and staff fit into that category. When you have two equal owners, it's like, or other business, it's, whether it be a couple, whether it be a partnership, there's always that situation where one staff member, they understand the strengths and weaknesses. Staff learn the strengths and weaknesses of their bosses. And they know which one that if they want to have this day off or they want to get this or whatever it is, they know which staff, which boss to go to to ask from that sort of point of view. And that can sometimes be a problem if you as a couple are not aligned because if you're not backing each other up, so if someone goes to Ariel and sort of says, “Hey, can I leave work early today because I need to go and do this?” And she says, “No”, then comes to me. I'm likely to sort of go, “Have you asked Ariel?” Or because I know that it's a question that would have been asked to her first because she's the front of that. So they wouldn't come to me to ask that. And if they've come to me to ask that, then I know that, I definitely know that they've already asked her. So, you know, little things like that.
Ariel Endean: Another one is, if you haven't been clear about your roles, if you haven't worked out your clear roles, then the team doesn't actually know who they're meant to go to for what.
Marcus Nicholls: For advice on certain things, yeah.
Ariel Endean: Yeah, or on anything really, like on how to do something. For instance, Marcus had his staff that he managed that was in his skillset. And I had my staff that I managed. So it was very clear to them who they needed to see about what thing, but that stemmed, that goes back to being very clear about what your job role is.
Brendan Rogers: I'm going to ask Ariel this. I think that's probably fairer for you, Marcus. How did you guys settle disagreements when they came up?
Marcus Nicholls: I'm looking forward to hearing this. (Laughing)
Ariel Endean: Disagreements within a direction of the business? Or are you talking more relationship or business or?
Brendan Rogers: Business.
Ariel Endean: Yeah, ‘cause one of the things we have in place, we're pretty much on the same page mostly with most things. But every now and again, we disagree with each other where it's like, “I don't know about that idea,” you know? And the decider, I don't know how he came to it, but where we've ended up is the decider in that is it depends how strongly the person feels for or against it. So, if I'm like, “Well, I don't think that's a very good idea,” which is like, say about 25% not into the idea or 50% not thinking that's not gonna work. And Marcus is saying, “I believe in this one,” like, “I really, really believe I reckon this is going to go,” or whatever it happens to be, then he wins. “Do you know what it’s like?” “Great. We do it,” ‘cause you're more passionately for it than I'm more passionately against it, if that makes sense. And that goes both ways. And I guess too, there is like a deal breaking thing where it depends if it was something that I'm like, “I'm a hundred percent not into that. Period,” and vice versa, then we just wouldn't do it ‘cause you're a couple, you gotta be moving forward with it together.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah. And I guess it is a little bit of going, it's like any part of running a business or developing, it's like, “Get your pitch.” If you are really for this and the person that you're dealing with is sort of against it. It's like, you need to have your pitch strong enough.
Ariel Endean: Build your case.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah. To convince them that it's a worthwhile direction to want to go in whatever that may actually sort of be.
Ariel Endean: We also agree to disagree. There are times.
Marcus Nicholls: We do that occasionally, but in general, it comes back to communication. So it's going, “Okay. So if we are on different spaces, how do we resolve it?” It's just breaking it down into little areas and going, “Okay, well, where's the blocks?” And then works. We work through those blocks to then actually get to the end result. And once you've got through that, you actually then know one way or the other of what it is, you know, that needs to be worked through.
Ariel Endean: And quite often, the thing you're arguing or the thing that's a contentious issue is not actually the issue, you know, there's something else that's a problem that needs to be addressed. And that's just a symptom of it.
Brendan Rogers: If we think about moving on to more of the challenges in being a Business Couple, first of all, your own experiences, what would you say is the biggest challenge you came up against in business, having your own business and how you guys worked through that as a team?
Marcus Nicholls: We ran a seven-day-a-week business and running a seven-day-a-week business meant that you, at times, struggled to have the freedom for your family that you wanted, or it meant that only one of the couple could go to events, you know, opposed to attending them as a couple. And that was challenging at times, particularly in the early periods, once we grew the business and we had the staff to be able to sort of do that. So yeah, certainly that was a challenge.
Ariel Endean: The fact that it can dominate your life, if you're not very clear about when you turn business off and when you turn it back on, especially we lived on site as well, and it was a seven-day-a-week business. So I think for a long time, we just let it win, let it dominate, and didn't take enough family time or quality time for each other or yourselves, yourself even, you know, that's one of the things we coach people on that you really need to do that. You really need to turn it off because otherwise, you can just dominate your 24/7, your waking hours and dreaming about it as well. ‘Cause you know, businesses are quite overwhelming and they fill up a whole big part of your life when you run your own business. And as a couple, you don't, you know, it comes home with you, everything, and you really need to do that. You really need to make sure that you cordon off that bit of time that's just for you, that's got nothing to do with business. It's just about life or fun or travel or development or romance, or, you know, whatever you want to action, whatever you want to put into that spare time that's not not to do with work.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah. I mean, one of the questions about our podcast is, or one of our random questions is do you allow business into the bedroom?
Brendan Rogers: I have heard that question.
Marcus Nicholls: (Laughing) And you know, and for some people, they do ‘cause it doesn't matter. But for other people, it's a big issue. It's like, it's just off. You know, they don't even allow business at home, some people.
Ariel Endean: You're risking your relationship. It really is just, that is the key one. Like when you go into, when you start your own business, you're risking your time, you know? But at the end of the day, if it doesn't work and you go back to what you were doing, you've lost a year or two or three, you're risking money. If you've saved up 50,000, 20,000, a 100,000, or your parents have invested or whatever, you've risked time and money. And that's it. If you have a goal, you've got a partner that does something else like you, but it's your own business and you're not both go-to jobs, you're not risking your relationship. Whereas, when you go into business as a Business Couple, you're putting your, you know, your relationship up there, along with your time and money to lose.
Marcus Nicholls: Actually another challenged that I just thought of then too is, which it came back to a bit of what Ariel sort of said around where business is dominating your life is where you have communication that's not business, you have topics and time where you're out, where you're not discussing business because you can often sort of go out to dinner, but you're talking about business opposed to talking about life. And for some people, that's not an issue.
Ariel Endean: Oh, sometimes, it can be fun.
Marcus Nicholls: Sometimes, it's for, half the relationship, it's an issue. That can be a challenge.
Ariel Endean: I was just going to say, there is a funny one, which is when we were running a seven-day-a-week business and a lot of entrepreneurs do and Business Couples do. And I always used to want to make Saturday and Sunday a bit more fun, like to go by croissants. So, yeah, I dunno. Do something. And Marcus just, was always like, “It's just another day. I don't understand this. Like why? We can buy croissants on Monday.” It's like, “Yeah, but it's…”
Marcus Nicholls: And there's no people there on a Monday, so I get better croissants.
Brendan Rogers: And more.
Marcus Nicholls: And more.
Ariel Endean: And you don’t have to line up. But yeah, so that was one that some, you know, you have to mark those sort of things, those moments to celebrate and do and enjoy and try it. ‘Cause otherwise, it just all blends into just an overwhelming running of a business. And there is a lot of fun stuff in chatting about business and developing it, but cordoning off time, it’s not that. And also, we didn't have a weekend in that business. So you need to artificially create that for yourself in some way. So if that's croissants on Sunday morning, and whatever you do on a Saturday morning, I think it's important to do those things, but you know, your partner might not, but he would do it for me, so.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah.
Ariel Endean: And often, we’d go do it while I was asleep. So they'd be there when I wake up, which was extra nice because I'd slept in which is the other thing I love. So yeah.
Marcus Nicholls: A mistake which we made in amongst things as well was, we never celebrated the wins, you know.
Ariel Endean: Not enough.
Marcus Nicholls: Not enough, you know, like when we built the new pet resort, it was a two-and-a-half-million dollar build. Opening those doors, one getting the finance to do it. And then two, opening your doors once it's complete. My nature as a workaholic is, “What's next?” Not to sit and look and to go, “Wow, I've just created something that very few people get to create.”
Ariel Endean: Yeah. And I would say it's not often that two workaholics are together. It tends to be, there's a workaholic. And then, there's the other person. And I would say, one of my mistakes was not recognising that as the non-workaholic, it was my role to step in front of Marcus and force those pauses because it's easy to get caught up in the vortex of a workaholic’s onwards motion. And you just fall into that and fall into the strength and the energy of that. So, but as the non-workaholic, I could have intervened and gone, “Right, wait on. We're going to take a day off. This is amazing,” you know. And I think I did a little bit of that, but not enough.
Brendan Rogers: How long did it take you, Ariel, to realise that that was needed? Again, over the course of the business and seven-day business that we need to take some time out for ourselves? And when you did have that realisation, what was it that you guys did and did it become a habit?
Ariel Endean: Well, sadly, I didn't do it in a sensible approach where you go, “Well, there’s a lot of red flags here that, you know, we should take a break.” I just let it get to the point where I burnt out. So rather than being sensible about it going, “We need to take time off. We need to take me-time or us-time.” For me, I just burnt out. And then, I couldn't function, you know, as a worker. And then, I had to sort of rebuild from that a better way of being a business couple and an entrepreneur and running a business, which is partly why we like the idea of helping people avoid having to get to that point. And I think part of that also wasn't just the workaholic thing of it, but also that idea of not allowing yourself to be weak, for some reason, it wasn't even understanding that you had to just be infinitely strong in running a business.
You had to be able to jump all hurdles, high mountains, be an awesome Mum, great partner, make the business successful, make it twice as successful. ‘Cause you always read about uber successful things, not moderately successful things. So, and whenever I wasn't coping, I thought the problem wasn't that I wasn't coping the problem wasn't that I wasn't just pushing hard enough or trying hard enough or working hard enough. And it's like, so I really had to run into a brick wall to learn that lesson, but I would strongly advise people not to take that strategy (laughing) if avoidable. That was how I learned that just working hard and just always working hard and not intervening when your workaholic partner is working double hard. Yeah, that's how I learnt that. I learned it the hard way, but I'd like to make it easier for other people not to have to go to that length to learn that lesson.
Brendan Rogers: Again, fascinating to me, because I'm a big believer in that culture is a reflection of leadership. So, Marcus, in that situation, obviously it was an impact on you with Ariel's breakdown. How did that impact you and even on reflection, how do you think maybe even some of your behaviours impacted that situation occurring?
Marcus Nicholls: While it was going on, I mean, I just had to double down and pick up slack.
Ariel Endean: (Laughing) Marcus had to work harder which is probably not the outcome you would want.
Marcus Nicholls: But getting to the end of it and the recovery of it. It's the learning to the emotional aspect that you need to learn to understand and support someone else's feelings in those situations. Took a bit of learning from my end. Did I do a good enough job? Probably not, but I understand it better than I did. So if it was to happen again, we aim for it not to happen again in everything we do. So I'm probably more sympathetic. I don't push to the level I used to push. So I’m conscious of those sort of things, you know.
Brendan Rogers: Ariel, is he achieving a pass mark with this or?
Ariel Endean: He was a superhero when I was unwell. Like he, no, he definitely is. But it was, I mean, you know, you learn from your own experiences, but you learn from seeing what's happening to the person you love most as well. So he saw firsthand in me the damage that just the strategy that I'm just going to work harder, try harder, push harder, hang on harder, do more to overcome something is not the only way to move forward.
I think it was a reset for you. I think that's probably when you went into the recovery phase from being a workaholic. Yeah. Like that, like you view it now as something that you, you know, it's a wonderful attribute, but it's also a challenge and you need, it's something that you need to control and moderate yourself. That, and you also got unwell, which allowed you, which meant you could not then keep with the workaholics.
So those two things I think changed your approach to how many hours you should work. And also put it back on the table, “Why are we actually doing this?” I think we lost our why as well, which is if we're doing this for quality of life and to spend time together and enjoy, that's not what we're doing. We're just sort of overwhelmed with staff and people and growth. And you know, so it's a good thing to, you know, one of the things we coach is to actually do a reset every year, which is to sit down and have a, “Why are we doing this? Are we still happy with doing this with each other?” We are still happy with each other being in a relationship and we are still happy with running this business. Why are we here just to reset that? So I think you learnt from my burnout.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah, absolutely. From that sort of point of view, you know, I hit my own brick wall in a different fashion, which yeah, had its effect, so.
Brendan Rogers: I'd like to move us on to the advice part. Ariel, what would be the single biggest bit of advice that you would give to couples that are already in business to help them have a successful business, but probably, more importantly, have a successful relationship whilst running that business?
Ariel Endean: Probably, what I was saying in the last answer, which is just to have regular investigations into whether or not you're still, there are sharing the same goal, the same vision, whether or not, you know, you're happy with the different metrics of it, you know, in terms of how much time it's taking, what cost it's taking, if it's taking a cost and then put things in place. So yeah, probably doing that enforced either weekly or monthly or quarterly sit-down, and this is what we're doing. We're discussing how happy we are with this. And if we're not, what we can change. Because it's very easy just to get caught up with the, just the actual logistics and work of running a business and not be working on yourself or your bigger picture for it all. I think that back in the day, what is it? You need to be working on your business, not in your business, the E-Myth and it's so true. You can just get so caught up working in your business and you're just blinded to the bigger vision. So fine checking that you still aligned together on all of it, why you're there and where you're going with it.
Brendan Rogers: Marcus, what would be your bit of advice that you'd like to share with couples in business?
Marcus Nicholls: Mine again is very similar to Ariel's. Or just second to that. The only thing I would add to that component is that when you do sit down to have those discussions, you have a format that allows everyone to say whatever it is that's not working without the person, other person interrupting and just absorbing. So listening, putting those ears on. And then, it then allows you to, and what is set in that space stays in that space effectively. It's a bit like the, when you hear about, you know, ‘what happens in Bali, stays in Bali’ sort of scenario. It's like you, if you can have a frank discussion, but it stays there. It doesn't then need to go on from there because it's just having that frank discussion and it's getting off your chest. What challenges you're having as a business couple and, you know. Like sort of what your partner's doing that's frustrating you that you need to be able to tell them how you feel. And that's really important. Outside of that, again, I pull back to things like, “Why are you doing this?” Make sure your why is right. Make sure you both are in the same space because if you're not, it's going to destroy your relationship. It's as simple as that, it's going to destroy the business and your relationship. And it's a double whammy.
Ariel Endean: I'd also say too, that like, seek advice, seek help and input. And it's not necessarily going through relationship counselling, but like listening to a podcast, you know, like the Business Couples Secrets Sauce or reading a biography is on couples that have set up businesses and run them together or yeah, asking friends how they deal with different things, getting around other business owners, you know, being around other people and not feeling quite alone in this space, educate yourself and get coaching.
Marcus Nicholls: And get coaching. And even in your specs, Brendan, where you're talking about sort of, you know, how to manage teams. At the end of the day as a couple, you're a team.
Ariel Endean: You’re a team of two. You’re the A Team! (Laughing)
Marcus Nicholls: So, you know. Yeah, it’s, if you're struggling with that, and from a business point of view, it may be not that you need relationship counselling. It's more that you actually need someone who can come in from a team management point of view and work with you as a team, as a couple to work through those challenges.
Brendan Rogers: Ariel, I'm going to start with you.
Ariel Endean: Okay. You look so serious. (Laughing)
Brendan Rogers: It's my poker face. (Laughing)
Marcus Nicholls: Love it.
Brendan Rogers: What is the single biggest quality that Marcus brings to your relationship?
Ariel Endean: He's really loving and caring. I just feel like he has my back. I have complete trust in the fact that my well-being, he cares about my well-being as much as his own.
Brendan Rogers: Marcus, I gave you a little bit of time to think about it, mate.
Marcus Nicholls: Yeah. I need time to think it's part of my...
Brendan Rogers: It’s part of your personality which is why I did ask you second.
Marcus Nicholls: Thank you. Appreciate that.
Brendan Rogers: What would you say is the single biggest quality that Ariel brings to your relationship?
Marcus Nicholls: Her caring. Yeah. It's a simple fact that, similar to her, is that she genuinely cares for my well-being. On a daily basis, she’s conscious of that, and is more than happy to allow me space when I need space.
Ariel Endean: He's also funny and smart and cares for other people actually, too. It's not just caring about me. He just has a big heart, but he's funny and smart too. And I love that as well.
Brendan Rogers: It's great that you both mentioned the caring. It's probably not unsurprising to me. I mean, I know you guys a little bit, but more importantly, I would say that care factor coming through in how you ran your business, how you looked after everything, and probably, how you cared for your staff as well, because that basis of caring is such a solid foundation for leadership. So both of you having that, it's probably no surprise that you had a pretty successful business and you're helping other people to be successful in business. So great job.
How can people get hold of you? Who would like to answer that one? ‘Cause I’m assuming it will hold you in the same place.
Marcus Nicholls: (Laughing) Yeah, basically very much the same place. Business Couples Success is our website and Facebook page, Instagram page. It’s all Business Couples Success. And Business Couples Secret Sauce is our podcast, which is on all the major platforms. They are the easiest ways to get in touch with us.
Brendan Rogers: Guys, I want to say thank you very much for coming on the show. I've loved the vulnerability and the honesty that you guys showed today. Really fantastic. I think people are going to get so much out of that, even if they're not couples, but just how they work with other people in their environment is so important. You guys obviously have that solid base through the personal relationship you have. So well done on what you guys have done and already achieved. Well done on what you're likely to achieve into the future. And again, thank you for being guests on the Culture of Things podcast.
Marcus Nicholls: Lovely. Thank you, Brendan. It's been an absolute pleasure.
Ariel Endean: Yeah, it really has. It's been fun. Thank you for inviting us.
Brendan Rogers: Marcus and Ariel are a fantastic energetic couple. They speak from real experience around the challenges of being couples in business. They're very passionate about helping other Business Couples succeed. Marcus and Ariel's podcast, Business Couples Secret Sauce, is Testament to their commitment to share knowledge and experience to help achieve their passion.
These were my three key takeaways from my conversation with Marcus and Ariel.
My first key takeaway. Leaders get everyone on the same page. It's not about the leader coming up with what the page looks like, but it is about ensuring, as a leader, you are helping to get the level of clarity needed so the whole team are aligned. Marcus and Ariel both reinforced this message from their own experience and with helping other Business Couples. It is imperative that the team, and in this case, the Business Couple are on the same page.
My second key takeaway. Complementary skill sets are a foundation of success. As a business couple or in any business partnership, it is very important that each of you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths as much as you can and ensure there is absolute clarity about the responsibilities of each partner. Going through this process will undoubtedly uncover complementary skills each of you have. Getting clear on this and then taking action on it will set a solid foundation for your success.
My third key takeaway. Celebrate the wins. Taking time to do this is important. Business is a grind. It can be a very rewarding grind, but if you don't stop to reflect on what you have achieved, the grind can become more and more daunting. Ultimately, this could result in breaking down and therefore being forced to stop for much longer than you would have needed to if you took timeout initially to celebrate the successes and the wins.
So in summary, my three key takeaways were: leaders get everyone on the same page, complementary skill sets are a foundation of success, celebrate the wins.
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Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Until next time.
Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit brendanrogers.com.au to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.