Married to Work...and Your Co-Founder? How to Balance It All
BY Abigail Tracy
Today, in an Inc. Live Chat, entrepreneurs Carrie and Dave Kerpen talked about their success as both business partners and husband and wife.
The Kerpens have never been just husband and wife.
In fact, the duo’s wedding could be considered their first project as business partners. With minds for marketing and sales, Dave and Carrie Kerpen took their wedding day and turned it into a sponsored event. Carrie had the idea to get married at a baseball stadium. The couple took it and ran with it. Then, after a partnership with the Brooklyn Cyclones and sponsorship deals with Smirnoff, 1-800-Flowers, David’s Bridal and others, Dave and Carrie were pronounced husband and wife in front of a 7,000-person crowd.
The wedding raised $20,000 for charity and was a huge marketing success. After the event the companies were curious too see what Dave and Carrie had next.
“We couldn’t get married again so we started a company instead,” said Dave Kerpen, who joined Carrie (pictured right) for an Inc. Live Chat on Thursday with Executive Editor Laura Lorber (pictured left). The two sat down to share tips on how to balance work and life.
In 2007, Dave and Carrie founded the social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency, Likeable Media. In 2012, they also launched a spin-off company Likeable Local, a Facebook marketing firm for small businesses. So for Dave and Carrie, marriage and business have always gone hand-in-hand. The key to their success in business and marriage? Boundaries, rules, and a little common sense.
Balancing and Boundaries
“Some of our very early employees I am sure have stories to share about various screaming bouts at the office,” said Dave (as Carrie shushed him in the background and shook her head). He continued, “Ultimately, the most important thing is setting boundaries and very regular, transparent communication.”
Coupling marriage and business wasn’t easy for Dave and Carrie at first. In the beginning, they would fight at work and bring that home and then fight at home and bring it to work. Both Dave and Carrie stressed that setting boundaries based on priorities has helped them manage the work-life balance and for the Kerpens--family always comes first.
“I have talked to a lot of entrepreneurs who work with their families that have the same types of struggles and its just about prioritizing,” added Carrie. “If your families are first, then is makes the decisions much easier.”
To keep their family at the forefront and work at work, Dave and Carrie have instituted household rules.
“I think it is all about rules. We have a rule that when we get home, the phones are off until the kids go to bed,” said Carrie. “That is our time that we are just focused on our kids and their days and our days.”
Dave and Carrie also have a date night once a week and a big night out on the town once a month. The couple admitted that it is hard to keep talk off work when they go out--especially since Carrie officially took over as CEO of Likeable Media and Dave has moved to Likeable Local--but they try their best.
“We do try to limit the work talk and make sure that we talk about other stuff cause there are other things. I know that’s hard to believe--sometimes entrepreneurs lose sight of that--but there are other besides the business,” said Dave with a grin.
They added, however, that limited work talk at home has resulted in the actual business talks being a more enjoyable.
“That makes the conversations that we have about how to grow the companies so much more exciting because we are focused,” said Carrie.
Throughout the conversation, the two continued to stress that keeping the two worlds separate has been key to their marital success and that being present in whatever you are doing--whether that is working or spending time with your family--is the most important.
When a viewer posed a question to the couple via live stream in which they asked if Dave and Carrie would jump into business and marriage again if they could do it all over, Carrie replied, “We would do it again.”