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Many new franchises are set up by couples who find themselves working together for the first time. Married couple David and Alison Heath have worked together for 22 years and already had owned and operated a business together before investing in a Netstationers franchise.

With three children, David and Alison were looking for a franchise that would fit into their family dynamic and found that Netstationers was the perfect option. Alison said: "Meeting the Netstationers head office team during the interview stage, we were impressed that they seemed to actively encourage interest from family-based franchise owners. We knew from the word go that they were the sort of people we wanted to deal with."

David added: "Without the support of Netstationeres' infrastructure behind us, simple things like taking family holidays together might otherwise be difficult - we could be a bit stuck for holiday cover with both of us out of the office. Knowing that the Netstationers team can take care of customer enquiries while we're away gives us an enormous sense of freedom and flexibility to meet our family needs."

The couple also attribute their success in maintaining a work/life balance to having a good understanding of each others' weaknesses, while ensuring that they play to their individual strengths. For example, Alison's skills lie in organisation, planning and administration, so she takes care of most of the back office concerns, while David is essentially a great salesman and goes out to meet most of the new business prospects.

"When it works well, running a business together brings you closer to each other, makes you stronger. The challenges you face help you to appreciate one another's strengths and weaknesses, and you understand the pressures you are both dealing with," commented Alison. "You become a team and get to know one another really well, warts and all."

According to David and Alison sometimes things get a bit strained at work so it is important to make sure any tensions don't spill over into family time. David said: "We've definitely lost our temper with each other at certain points during our working life. But in some ways it's easier to be straight talking with your partner at work, and then you don't end up bringing any arguments home with you."

David advises couples who are thinking about launching a business together: "Before you take the plunge, sit down individually and write down what you each want to get from the business. Then, compare the answers. As long as you are both reflecting similar sorts of aims and ambitions, you should have a good foundation for your business."


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