It can be tricky for any founder to maintain a work-life balance, but when your husband is your co-founder, it becomes that much harder, according to Charlotte Petris, one half of the husband and wife team behind fintech startup Timelio.
Founded in 2015 by Charlotte and Andrew Petris, Timelio provides a peer-to-peer marketplace for invoice financing for businesses, intended to help them process invoices in a faster and more efficient way.
The startup has now funded more than $100 million in invoices. However, speaking at LaunchVic’s Yeah Nah 2018 summit in Melbourne last week, Charlotte Petris said running a business with your spouse means work and life can become “very blurred”.
“I’m an expert at not having balance,” Petris said, although over the past 12 months she has had a “personal objective” to improve this.
Last year, Petris went away for her birthday weekend and didn’t take her computer with her and she will be doing the same thing this year, she said. The couple have also recently implemented “physical boundaries” in the home.
“When you work with your husband that is your whole life,” Petris said.
She said it became the case that “we’re brushing our teeth and we’re talking about invoices … there are no boundaries.”
When the couple’s children started telling their parents to put their phone down, and started to make conversation about the business themselves, the co-founders realised they had to put some rules in place.
“How do you get your kids to talk about other things than invoice finance?” Petris asked.
Now, the pair are making sure Timelio talk stays within the home office. Once you cross that line you’re “no longer allowed to talk about the business”, she said.
“It’s certainly early days, but it’s a real focus,” she said.
“Work how it works for you”
Petris noted that sometimes founders can “feel as though they need to talk about working hard and not sleeping enough … it’s a culture thing”. However, in the early days of Timelio, this was not something she paid much attention to.
“I had no concept of what anyone else was doing,” she said.
She found, however, that the drive she had to achieve something with the startup meant “there was nothing more that I wanted to do but work”.
She advised founders to “work how it works for you”, without worrying about what anyone else thinks.
“What’s your inner scorecard?” She asked. “What’s more important for you?”
Petris described herself as a workaholic, and said business can become “almost an obsession [or] an addiction”. And while taking time out is important, it can also help to “be true to what really drives you”, she said.
She said her own core skill set is in finance, which she admits is “not a sexy business”, however, her passion doesn’t necessarily focus on the product itself, but on the outcome for the customer.
“Genuinely impacting someone else’s life is what makes it meaningful to do the work,” she said.