A Labor of Love: Advice from Married Business Owners - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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A Labor of Love: Advice from Married Business Owners

Are you debating going into business with your partner? Or perhaps you’re looking for advice on how to improve your current business relationship with your spouse?

Marriage is hard work, and so is running a business, but it’s not impossible. Many landscape company owners can and do run profitable organizations with their spouses.

“Working alongside my spouse is a unique and rewarding journey that blends the lines between professional and personal life in the most beautiful way,” says Jillian Burns, vice president and co-owner of Burns Landscape & Snow Management, based in Wilmington, Massachusetts. “Our work relationship is built on a foundation of mutual respect, shared goals, and commitment to both our business and each other.”

Check out some advice from these six couples who work together.


Like any other good relationship, whether with customers, employees, or vendors, communication with your partner is critical. Ira Wade, co-owner of Wade’s Lawn Service, based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, says you need to remember that you are not competing against one another so be open about what is going on.

Burns adds that transparency and trust are paramount. Keep your spouse informed on the business’s status and decisions that need to be made.

Burns notes it’s crucial to be intentional about what you discuss regarding the business and differentiate what needs to be brought home and what can stay at work.

“Unless it directly impacts the health of your business, try to leave it at the door,” Burns says. “This approach helps to prevent work stresses from overwhelming your personal life and keeps your home as a sanctuary for nurturing your relationship.”

Support One Another

Working with your spouse also calls for a significant amount of respect and teamwork.

“Be patient and supportive and give one another room to do what they do best,” says Annie Taylor, owner of Foxglove Gardening, based in Flagstaff, Arizona. “Also try to be patient and supportive with having your partner pursue things outside of work that make them happy.”

Jason Minshew, Taylor’s spouse, says if one of them makes a mistake, they don’t berate the other person; they just know to try something differently the next year.

“From the beginning, we just said, ‘Let’s start with putting our heads together and whatever we make, we’ll share,’ and so we share the mistakes, we share the profits, we share the benefits,” Minshew says.

“Respect each other’s differences, appreciate each other’s strengths,” says Carita Koen, owner of Green Magic Landscape LLC based in Mobile, Alabama. “You may not always agree with other’s perspectives, but success personally and professionally is based on love, honor, and respect for each other.”

Create Structure

Ellie Lamonaca, owner of Conserva Irrigation of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says the first year in business with her husband was a challenge as they came from corporate jobs and were learning the business while learning to work with each other. She says once they gave themselves designated roles, they were able to find their groove.

“One key aspect that makes our partnership successful is our ability to maintain a balance between being business partners and life partners,” Burns says. “We’ve learned to navigate challenges together, using them as opportunities to strengthen our relationship and our business. By applying work concepts like goal setting, structured problem-solving, and continuous improvement to our home life, we’ve found a rhythm that supports both our professional growth and personal happiness.”

Preserve Your Relationship

“Understand your roles and have those boundaries in place because boundaries are so very important because they will protect your relationship,” Deborah says. “In business, because so many different things are coming at you, they can come at you so fast. There are so many challenges out there, so many things you have to deal with. Sometimes, you can kind of lose your relationship in the shuffle. If you have those boundaries in place, everybody understands their role and all of that, it’ll cut down on a whole lot of chaos.”

Burns suggests scheduling regular, uninterrupted time for your relationship.

“This could be anything from a weekly date night to a simple coffee break together without discussing work,” Burns says. “Making this a non-negotiable part of your calendar emphasizes the importance of your relationship amidst the busyness of running a business together.”

Koen adds you should vacation often and celebrate each day together.

Think It Through

If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, examine your current relationship seriously and think through if it can stand up to the stressors of running a business.

“I think for anybody who’s married and considering entering into business together, that couple just has to do the soul searching and think about is that going to be a stressor on our relationship, really answer that honestly, or is that going to be something that I’m going to enjoy seeing my partner grow,” Minshew says.

Minshew says if you have things you try to hide from one another, you argue about money, or if you have a power complex where one has to be dominant over the other, this is not an ideal move to go into business together.

“We went into business together with a strong foundation in our marriage, which definitely helped,” Lamonaca says. “I always tell couples, if you have any unresolved issues in your marriage, they’ll surface when you go into business together. The bad carries over but so does the good; so make sure you have a strong foundation because that will translate over to your business.”  

Scordo adds that it’s not for everyone.

“You’ll know if it’s working or not,” Scordo says. “If it’s not working, you either need to figure it out, or you need to make a change. At the end of the day, your marriage is more important than work. Make it a priority.”  

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.