With in-house encouragement, Jackie Tarry, 28, started her own graphic design company, The Hot Shop, in New York City, three years ago. Her boyfriend, Christopher, had already been in business for himself for five years, so she'd become familiar with the hectic schedule entrepreneurship demands.
Although the two have lived together for three years, when the entrepreneurial spirit doubled in their home, Jackie and Christopher began to realize they hardly saw each other. To keep their relationship from deteriorating into a polite "hello" in the hallway and a cursory kiss goodnight, they established unbreakable "date nights" and 10 p.m. as a definite ending time for the day's business.
"It's making time that's the hardest thing, because it's the one thing you have the least of," Jackie says. "In the past year, [our businesses have] started to have busy times at the same time, so we've had to establish clear boundaries and get very specific. Usually we say `OK, this is the night or nights of the week when we're going out; this is the weekend day we will not work.' "
Jackie and Christopher also try to squeeze in daily updates about their businesses. "The key seems to be having that `connect time' to sit and talk about what's going on in our lives," she notes. "It's important to remember why you're in this relationship so you don't take it for granted. We try to call each other every day just to check in, send each other e-mails and little things like that."
What it all boils down to, Jackie says, is this: "To stay together, you have to treat the relationship as an entity in itself and give it as much prominence as the business."