When Business Meets Bedroom

"Taste this." she said. I had just seen her wrinkle her nose after sipping her drink. "I think this is spoiled." she said. "Try it." I looked at her, finding it difficult to keep from laughing out loud. My mother has done this since I was little. I didn't fall for it then and I wasn't about to start now. She waved her hanky in the air at the waiter and asked him to take a sip. He looked horrified and backed away as she raised the glass toward him. My mother has effectively put many of my favorite eating places at risk by, well, being herself. Lately I have been having our occasional lunches out of town in places I don't mind not revisiting. The spoiled drink episode was a welcome diversion from our previous conversation, however. I had committed the unpardonable offense of starting a new business venture with a girl I had only known for a few months. That wasn't the problem, those kind of things don't matter to her, it was the fact that I had not brought Sassy to her home. I had not given my mother the opportunity to find out the absolutely necessary information before I "got into bed" business-wise with someone whose people she did not know.

In the South, the women do not start off asking what you do, they want to know who your people are--where they are from, what church they attend, what social causes they support and often, their political leanings. Your financial position, while somewhat important, lags far behind the all important sense of history and who you have become. I had deprived Mama of what she considered an indispensable role in the assessing and appraisal of those closest to her only son. "What do you know about this woman?" she had begun. "With a name like 'Sassy" I can only imagine what kind of home life she had."

"A creative one." I said. "Her mother left when she was eleven and since her dad was in the Navy, they lived in several bases around the world. She speaks seven languages and has won a number of Ju-Jitsu competitions." Her nose wrinkled again, not a good sign. "How large is this woman?" I did laugh this time. "No Mom, Ju-Jitsu is a Japanese form of martial arts in which a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger one by using leverage and proper technique. She uses the opponent's force against himself rather than confronting it with her own. A very effective technique in our business, I might add."

She didn't look at all convinced, in fact if it were possible I'm sure she would have called the waiter to bring me another partner as this one was difficult to swallow. "Anderson, how is your little hobby going?" She has never acknowledged that our business, Affordable Luxury, is anything more than a hobby of mine. "Thank you for asking. It's going very well, we just signed up America West airlines."

Sassy and I are becoming recognized as a more and more indispensable component of recession business. We look at the cost cutting an enterprise is doing to stay in business and we help them do so in a way that appears trendy and desirable. Sassy had done this for Fresh Foods, a boutique market like Trader Joe's that cut out all the unnecessary items and offers artisan healthy basics with a packaging that says desirable, but affordable. I did a similar thing for a new Korean automotive company that needed to cut costs but still offer luxuries without frills. When we met at a trade show in Toronto, we were mutually impressed with the other's skills and decided to join forces.

"What do you mean 'signed up?' " As I was thinking about how I could put it so she could understand, I had an idea. "Do you remember what you did for your friend's bakery business." She was obviously flattered that I remembered. "Of course. She was losing money trying to bake everything that people could possibly want so I told her to concentrate on the things people were buying and come up with new, healthy recipes." I nodded, "You also helped her clean out a lot of clutter and fixed up a place in front for customers to have coffee and those delicious new pastries." She was beaming now. "Saved her business, it did!" For Mama that was being modest, because the truth be told, she not only saved the business, she tripled the traffic and made it into a local favorite. "That's what we hope to do for America West--cut out the unnecessary and whatever we do offer it will be recognizably trendy, but not ostentatious."

I said goodbye to my mother and made a mental note to polish up the profile for Sassy and I. It is very important in a close business relationship to focus on each others strengths and find ways for the differences in strength to compliment the others weaknesses. Sassy had the ability to size up a company and see it repositioned from a marketing and design perspective, while I was able to research and come up with the products or tooling that would get them there. While I had the corporate experience, she had more entrepreneurial skills because of starting and selling two successful businesses. She had not come up with the ideas for them, but launched and marketed them. My background was in incubating online strategies for established businesses and coming up with ideas for complementing products or services.

We both agreed that we would be equal partners and not boss and subordinate. While she had the money and could argue being the boss because of it, I had the contacts and the proven expertise needed to propel this business to the top. The only concern we had was how it would affect our personal relationship. Neither of us wanted a passion for the business venture to put out the fire of our own passion for each other.

That reminded me. Sassy was working while I entertained mom and I learned that she rarely stops to eat and that can bring out the worst in our communications. "A protein-style double-double and iced tea." I told the In-N-Out worker with the head-set. The Southern California franchise had retained its simple menu but found ways to accommodate the new low carb, healthy eating customer base by offering its burgers without the bun, wrapping it in lettuce and calling it "protein style." If my company had been called in I would have had them feature the actually beautiful fresh green wrapped burger and cheese on a billboard with the almost no grams of carbohydrates showing prominently. In our business, keeping your costs low doesn't mean you have to compromise on desirability.

"Oh you are a lifesaver!" she said when I handed her the food and just as I anticipated, she took a big juicy bite before she kissed me. "Mmmm two of my favorite tastes." I grinned. While two-thirds of couples who form small companies can make it past two years, only about 40% can make it to four years. We decided that we would find out all the buttons that shouldn't be pushed in our relationship and we agreed to avoid them out of kindness, respect and simple common sense. Making decisions on an empty stomach was something we both avoided. "A-hem!" our bookkeeper politely said as she came into the room.

Although our fledgling business could not afford all the outside help other, more established ones could, we both found Paula, our part time financial wizard indispensable. The number one cause of problems in "couple-preneurships" is being mired in financial matters. As another consulting firm owner said: Since we hired a third party to keep us on track and honest about budgets, cash flow, performance targets and so on, we've crossed divorce off our list of things to do.

Sassy asked Paula, a perky and amiable, sometimes marathon runner to sit in with us while we discussed our latest plans to open a new marketing area. We didn't really need her financial expertise, but Sassy found that with an employee sitting in, we were much less likely to make personal comments and kept things on a professional level.

I need to stop and let you know why we are working so hard at this. We just passed the two year point and both of us have had relationships before that didn't work out. We don't want to be part of the failing 56%. We recently made a $20,000 decision to redesign our office and found out that certain, expensive parts of the design was offensive to some cultures. We, the experts on such matters, missed it and it could have destroyed our relationship if we got caught up in blame and finger-pointing. Fortunately, we early on made a pact that we would stand behind each other, no matter how stupid a mistake we made and move forward. Our "no going backwards" rule has saved us time and time again.

"It's beautiful." Sassy was playing with her drink and looking out our favorite restaurant window at the sunset over the ocean. It was thursday night and we always had a date completely business free on that night. One of the things we learned was to keep our business and life separate. "It is beautiful, but it pales next to you." I replied. She smiled and leaned close as I put my arms around her. "I know we don't talk about business." she said pensively. "But if it all goes sour will you still love me.?" I laughed softly and told her the truth: "We started this business because we wanted to spend the time with each other and build a dream together." She looked at me and added: "That's right, and if the business gets in the way of us being together" I picked it up again: "Or if it takes away from our dream"

We didn't have to finish, as I kissed her again we both knew, nothing about our venture was as important as the adventure we were on--we would adapt, we would find a way to respect each other, we would play to our strengths, we would push each other not our buttons and if it came to it, we would walk away from the business rather than lose even one iota of the love that brought us together in the first place.

Trouble is part of your life, and if you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you enough chance to love you enough. ~ Dinah Shore

When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. ~ William Arthur Ward

Ronald Reagan who considered his wife to be a partner in all his endeavors had this to say after he was shot and nearly killed. "I pray I'll never face a day when she isn't there. Of all the ways God had blessed me, giving her to me was the greatest - beyond anything I can ever hope to deserve."

We Were Good Together

We were capable and savvy
Busy and important
Socially engaging and networked
Our calendars full
Our appointments overlapping
We were good
We were happening
And we wanted it all to go away

We worked well together
We were steps ahead because
We knew what the other was thinking
There wasn't anything we couldn't do
And we didn't want to do any of it

We were good
We were good together
And we only wanted to be
Together

©Winsome Publishing 2011, All rights reserved

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Comments 44 comments

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 5 years ago from India

I take it Sassy hasn't yet had to practice her Ju-Jitsu skills on you? :D

Just kidding, Winsome - it's wonderful that you are able to balance business with the bedroom. It can be tough, and I speak from experience!


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 5 years ago from India

It really does take a lot of balancing skill, Winsome - but after nearly 20 years, all I can say is, if you stick it out, it's soooo worth it in every way! It's so wonderful to see you've got your priorities right - putting your relationship first and standing behind each other, no matter what, just makes you feel on the same side. Oh, and it helps if both have some interests outside of the business and the relationship :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Shalini is so right. It is a quesiton of balance, and a bit of work as well. Compromise does manage to work its way in as well...thank goodness. Sounds like you have a winning relationhip in more ways than one. Kudos!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

You are such a talented writer, no matter what you write about :-))


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Awesomely beautiful! Keep doing what you're doing! God bless!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Good luck with the business. Good luck with the relationship. Good luck with the good writing.

And don't stop any of them.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

This is a wonderfully written hub and your mother sounds like a lovely woman, even know she still wants to know your business. Good luck with your new business and keep on writing because I really enjoy your hubs.


fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

This reading was really nice. I like the way you write and tell. And I like your story and the energy that I have felt here.

good luck! :)


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 5 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

This is very beautiful. So smart. Thank you for this pleasurable read.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Greetings honored Feline, thank you so much for your comment and I have to confess that being a writer I sometimes (sometimes?) take liberties. For example, the mother in this story is not mine and Sassy is not my partner and the business Affordable Luxury is not the business I am currently doing. Other than those tiny details it is somewhat loosely based on real life. I am struggling with the concept of couple based enterprise and I thought others would enjoy it as well. Whew! Thanks again. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Shalini, with the proviso given to Feline Prophet, I have been trying to use everything in this article for my real life enterprise which is more in the publishing vein. Since I am in the habit of giving marketing advice to my clients, I chose this fictional company because it is the hot trend now. Look at Target and JetBlue and you will see this kind of application all over. I try to separate business from personal and most of the time problems occur when I don't. Thank you for your comment and congratulations on sticking it out. I'm happy you are reaping the rewards. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Genna, you are right about the compromise. It is not enough to see the other's viewpoint, sometimes you have to give it more weight than you normally would to let them know your heart is in the right place. It also helps to look up from your work now and then to smile at them as if they weren't the burden. Thanks for stopping by. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Dimitri, Mickey and Doc thank you so much for your praise and reading. It is such an honor to have any one of you as an audience, but to have all three makes my day complete. All my best.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Pamela, my mother was a lovely woman and yes, she would do all those things and more but I just made this one up because it allowed me to talk about one of the important points of couple businesses--get to know each other well. Before you begin any venture together you have to know as much as you can to play to the strengths and avoid pushing buttons where they are sensitive or not as strong. If you are very lucky, your strengths overlap and make up for your weaknesses. Good to see you Pamela, thanks for the visit. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Lilly you are so nice. I was going to write a scholarly article on couple venture how to and said "Heck with it, I'm going to make it into a story that I and hopefully others can relate to." Glad it worked. Thank you for the sweet comment. =:)


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Winsome, enjoyed this knowing couples can work together. Why not? I worked with my husband side by side for over ten years and am glad for the time and experiences we shared! We had more time together than most couples have in a lifetime!

I'd like to hear more stories about your mother...she sounds delightful and colorful...and yes Mom's can be exactly like that! They are just getting back for raising us! LOL


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 5 years ago from India

What? You were having us on?!!! But you tell a great tale, anyway! :)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hi Scribenet, It sounds like you had a true "Business of Bliss" experience. I had a similar experience with my two boys and I will always treasure the time they spent working in my business with me. I would never have had that kind of interaction otherwise. Thank you for your nice comment about my mother. She was (as Dan Akroyd said in Driving Miss Daisy) a doodle. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Well sort of FP, there is a lot of my experience in there but the names have been changed to protect the not so innocent. Ha ha

Thank you, I hope all the good ideas were not too obscured by the story--maybe I'll go back and italicize my main points if readers don't seem to be noticing. =:)


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 5 years ago from India

haha Winsome - but tale apart, you have some great ideas there! I would seriously advise others not to mix personal with business but if it has to be, I think you've got some super tips there!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thanks Shalini, after I picked the title I realized some readers might think I was talking about the oldest profession. =:)


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

I wish you and Sassy the most out of love and business! Great Write!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

You are such a good writer. Everything sounds so real. Thank you for the good read.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thank you FL, Anderson and Sassy make a great team because they know each other so well they know "when to hold em, when to fold em, when to walk away and know when to run." May love and dreams prevail whether it is in the boardroom or the bedroom. Good to see you. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hello my friend, Hello--You are sweet and I thank you. My personal experience is similar and I don't know any other way to write except from my own experience. I am grateful for HP because I can write from the passion of my heart and you all are so wonderful in reading and commenting. I appreciate your reading HH. =:)


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

You certainly succeeded in pulling my leg! This is a delightful hub. Although your mother was not actually yours, many small town Southern women are very much like her.


erthfrend profile image

erthfrend 5 years ago from Florida

This was awesome! I really enjoyed it!!!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Greetings M'Lady, you are very kind--I'm happy you enjoyed it. I think mothers in all areas share the need to protect their children, some however, my own included, are very colorful in the way they go about it. I think we may see these characters again. Who knows, they may even meet a mysterious lady in their next adventure. =:)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thank you EF, I had a lot of fun writing it. May all our ventures be adventures. =:)


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

To continue their adventures is a great idea! A mysterious lady would be delighted to meet them!


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I really enjoyed your "story", and I can relate. My husband and I have been together for over four score and ten and been in business together for nearly as long. Love and respect and some give and take always makes for a good relationship. Here's to yours!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Thank you GL, now you do know that four score and ten is 90 years so that would make you both 94 or so. You are doing extremely well for almost a hundred. Heh heh.

You are right about the love and respect. I went to a class once called that and the leader said men need to hear respect from his woman and women need to hear love from her man. As to "give and take," I've heard that each has to try to give 75% to achieve a perceived 50%.

Congratulations on making a couple-preneurship work for almost 90 years. =:)


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I told you I don't look my age :)!


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

Great story- had me hooked. My aunt and uncle were both married to other people when they met at a company they worked for. 2 years after first meeting, they were divorced from their prior spouses, got married to each other, and started a successful software business together. 30 years it lasted. In fact, the rest of my uncle's life as he sadly passed away 3 years ago, but the happy point here is their business AND relationship motto was also like yours- play on each other's strengths. They were so good together and the whole venture literally lasted a lifetime.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

What a beautiful illustration of the article you have given here Izzy. The fears and imagined slights have kept many out of being in love and in business together. Your aunt and uncle knew each other in an environment where they were already comfortable working together. Most couples don't have that experience and are at a disadvantage when they co-entrepreneur. Thank you for stopping by and for the sweet anecdote. =:)


jrsearam profile image

jrsearam 5 years ago from San Juan, PR

Hi there Winsome! Long time no read! I really enjoyed this one. It's fitting I should come upon this at this particular moment in my life. A few days ago, my lovely wife asked me to come work for her. One of her most loved and skilled employees was presented with an offer she couldn't refuse and left us for greener pastures. I have to say I'm a little reluctant to accept, despite the fact that after 15 years, being together has been nothing but wonderful. I suppose I'll end up putting my trust in the love we have shared all these years and hope that any natural consequences of us working together will not become an insurmountable obstacle to a harmonious marriage. Heeding your warning concerning the number one problem faced by "couple-preneurships", I will condition my acceptance of my wife's job offer on outside consulting of financial matters. Thanks for sharing your experience, JR


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey JR, good to see you--I'm so glad you saw this. I wrote it as a narrative because I really wanted readers to get the feel of the advice as it was being lived. As a country we are all being pulled into roles we avoided when times were good and these are often hard on relationships. The job is always the means, not the end and the relationship is the end, not the means. If you and your wife can renew that goal every day, you will do just fine and maybe even discover some new ways to appreciate and love each other. All my best to both of you. =:)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Sounds like you are doing everything just right Winsome! I opened a small business 6 years ago - my husband quit his job and now he runs the whole show:-). It has been life changing and all wonderful! Now I have 4 other people that work for us too so I don't have to. Way to go you TWO! I can tell you have the chemistry right!

I also love the way you portrayed the perfect southern belle;)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Hey RH, good to see you--congratulations on inventing yourself into an opportunity for others and still having time for yourself. Thank you for the kind words. Those southern belles are something aren't they--I have a hunch you experienced the southern way first hand. =:)


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Funny article which is spoke about the things happening now.Rated this up.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Haha! I was brought up to mind my damned manners! My mother wouldn't tolerate poor manners.

Dave (my husband) and I were just saying that we have built a wonderful life together - neither of us could have done it without the other's support or brain! We value each other more, I think. I hope you and yours do so as well. It is great to answer to no real boss;)!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

I'm glad you enjoyed it C, some personalities make it easy to write and just describing them adds spice and humor naturally. Thank you for the kind words. =:)


CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

What an enjoyable read, Winsome, you really had me hanging on to the very end.

It's a good thing I read all your comments as well, because I was going to ask the Almighty to bless "Anderson" and "Sassie's" life together along with blessing "Affordable Luxury" with prosperity.

Now, I will continue to ask the Almighty to bless your mother, that is, if you really had one (?). :0)

Voted up across the board!

Best wishes to a good friend - C.J. Sledgehammer


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas Author

Ha Ha CJ, yes I did have a mother and she was something. Raised her last two boys by herself and made sure all of the six were in church three times a week. She was not afraid to speak her mind, but she had a heart of gold. When you have similar experiences the characters are not difficult to imagine.

Glad you enjoyed the story--I tried to pack a lot of truth and sound advice into it. Thank you for the votes of confidence and the friendly visit. =:)

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