Ever wondered what it would be like to be your husband’s boss? April Anthony doesn’t wonder – she knows. She and her husband Mark have worked together for the past seven years. We asked April for the inside scoop on how they maintain a healthy marriage despite their unusual work relationship.
4word: Diane tells me that you built two major companies in the home health industry. Can you tell us a bit about that?
April: I currently serve as CEO of Encompass Home Health, a company that I founded in the fall of 1998, and Homecare Homebase (HCHB), which I founded in 2001. Encompass is now the 8th largest Medicare certified home care company with more than 12,000 patients on service on any given day.
As Encompass began to grow we realized that we needed technology to help facilitate the delivery of high quality and cost efficient services, but we couldn’t find any technology that we felt really addressed the needs of the industry.
So in 2001 I began HCHB to create a software for the homecare and hospice industry. HCHB has now become the leading provider of technology solutions for the homecare and hospice industry and has been named Best in KLAS by the KLAS research organization for each of the last 3 years.
4word: What does your husband Mark do?
April: After 17 years as an institutional equity stock broker, Mark began to consider other alternatives. In 2006 I convinced him to join me at HCHB as the Executive VP of Sales and Marketing.
4word: Why did the two of you decide to go into business together?
April: At the time Mark started to consider other alternatives I had an opportunity to buy out one of partners who led our sales efforts. Mark is terrific with people, and I knew he would do a great job representing our product, so I asked him to come join me and help me grow the business.
We talked a lot about the situation before proceeding because we knew that it could be particularly challenging for me to be my husband’s boss. Many couples work together, but it is somewhat unusual for the wife to have the leading role in the business enterprise.
But after a lot of open and honest communication we decided to give it a try. We agreed early on that we were not willing to sacrifice our relationship for the good of the business.
Thankfully, my hunch about Mark was correct, and we have had record-setting sales almost every year since he joined me at HCHB. He has helped build our business into an industry leader.
4word: So how has HCHB affected your relationship?
April: I would say the effects have been more positive than negative, but there have been some challenges. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that Mark is my husband and not my employee. Likewise, he has to remember that I am his boss and not just his wife.
We also have to intentionally leave work at the office. Early on, all we ever talked about was work. It was not healthy for our family or our marriage. We still fight this tendency but overall I think we have found a balance that works.
In spite of the occasional challenge, I love working with Mark, and it is fun to know that there is someone at work who always has your back.
4word: What advice would you give to spouses who are considering going into business together?
April: Talk! The key to success in these situations is the ability to talk it out. I would also suggest starting with a high level of confidence that it is going to work, because you need to respect the other person’s contributions in the workplace. If one of you is frustrated because you think your spouse is not carrying his/her load, it can bring added challenges to an already challenging situation.
When we began this venture, Mark and I agreed that we would keep an open line of communication about how it was going. I think that has helped us tremendously in preserving the health of our marriage.
What about you? Would you consider working with (or working for) your spouse? Why or why not?