Startup husband and wife team: a Nuvem9 case study

Nuvem9 got the exciting opportunity to chat with Jill Crawford, head of sales and marketing at Just Live a Little Ltd – producers of delicious granola!   Jill is one of the co-founders of Just Live a Little, the other being her husband, David.  So while we stuffed our faces with granola bars, Jill shared her story with us on what it is like to run a business with your significant other!

This is Jill’s story in her own words:

“So, to answer your question … I have absolutely no idea, but this is my version of events!!

David and I started Just Live a Little about 4 years ago making and selling granola (perhaps you’ve seen us in the cereal aisles!!).  Up to three years ago, David had been working to build the business up on his own so I gave up a well-paid “safe” job to take the leap into unknown territory and work together in our business.

Over this time we have established and defined our roles; David looks after all the production and ingredients side of the company and I look after all the sales and marketing.

So, what have I learnt along the way?  Well, let’s start with the highlights!

Our business is run from home so there were no more 6am starts and horrible commutes in rush hour.  I can help get the children out to school which I learnt very quickly is a good thing as David let them eat their cereal in front of the TV and then it was a mad dash out the door!  Apparently they made it (more or less) on time to school!!  So, at least I now have more civilised children who make it into school before the bell.

We have more time to develop and talk about ideas.  Most of our best ideas come when we are chatting over a glass of wine.  David can focus on his strengths in production and his love of spreadsheets and I focus on selling (by not taking 2 hours to send a straightforward e-mail…I am not going to name and shame, but the thought he put into an e-mail was not normal!)

We are able to celebrate each other’s success and commiserate with each other when things don’t go according to plan … this happens a lot.  We actually get on very well and overall enjoy each other’s company and some days we really do have a laugh at what is going on.  We both thrive on being busy and pushing ourselves to the limit so we love the excitement of building a successful start up.  Going to food shows can be a lonely game it’s nice to be able to share these especially when they are in Paris!

But let’s face it, with the ups, come the downs …

We never switch off and while this has its positives we will literally still be talking granola at midnight … almost every night and because it is literally on our doorstep we can’t stay away.  There are no boundaries.  The spreadsheets drive me to the edge of insanity….  We can both wallow a little and have been known on a Monday morning to turn the whole day into a spiral of despair because of a really small blip!

As there are days we laugh a lot there are days when we really don’t and literally have to walk away from each other as you can imagine being the case with anyone you spend your entire time with …”What does he mean he doesn’t have the e mail I haven’t send him!”  Oh and it’s scary – very scary!!  This is it for us, we have to make this business work – we have 2 kids and a mortgage!

So with all the good and bad said and done, here are some of my top tips to making it work as a Husband and Wife team!

Think really hard about the reality of being together all the time … still want to do it?

Make sure you are equals and have separate roles and responsibilities.  Make sure you know what skills you bring to the table.  Stick to this!

Try and set some boundaries and communicate effectively.  You can’t take your personal stuff to work … as hard as it might be.

It is important to set some time to be apart from the business, both for the purposes of individual sanity and also to prevent you from killing each other!

Even with it feeling like a rollercoaster most of the time, we can’t imagine not working together building Just Live a Little, we thrive off each others energy and enthusiam to make it work!”

Check out Just Live a Little on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and cereal aisles near you!  If you haven’t tried it – it is a must!



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