"It became an all-inclusive, all-encompassing mind-share. We ended up working on it nights and weekends," Matt says. Besides their self-imposed curfew on the drive home, the couple schedules activities to keep the company from taking over.
"We'll have a date night here or there, or go on a hike," Matt says. "If either of us talked about work on date night, we'd get in trouble with each other."
The business is doing well enough that they've been able to hire two employees and plan to take on a third. The couple believes that they're succeeding because they have something in common: They're both risk takers.
"We have literally put our life savings into the business," Matt says. "It was a really risky decision, but we both had an entrepreneurial mindset."_____ COMPROMISING Natasha and Chris Ashton have learned a big lesson from owning a business together: The only way to end an argument is to compromise. "We never reach an impasse," says Natasha, co-CEO with her husband of PetPlan, a company that provides health insurance for pets. "One of us backs down and we make a joint decision. The Ashtons decided to start a pet health insurance business after their cat, Bodey, ran up $5,000 in vet bills. They had looked for insurance for her, and discovered it was relatively unknown in the U.S. while being very popular in Britain, where the couple comes from. "It became apparent to us what a tremendous opportunity it was," Natasha says. They started the Philadelphia-based company after they got their MBAs in 2003. It wasn't always smooth. There were heated debates, and the Ashtons found that they needed to work out their differences. "You can't get held up or let emotions override your ability to make a decision," Natasha says. At first, the Ashtons were both involved in virtually every aspect of PetPlan. As it grew â¿¿ it now has 80 employees â¿¿ they each took on distinct roles. Chris handles the financial and insurance end of the business, while Natasha focuses on marketing and public relations.