Wildly Optimistic Me: ‘Babe! I’m going to build an app!’
Curious Husband: ‘Ahh, don’t you have to know how to build an app first?’
Me again: ‘Heck no! There are 2M of them, surely it can’t be that hard!’
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Having spoken to my husband Tim for the entirety of our relationship how I was gagging to have my own business, it didn’t come as a surprise that I’d finally decided to go for it.
The idea for my startup was like most other stories, something I dreamed up I wanted for myself and had put away in the back of my mind. It began making appearences in the middle of the night and waking me up constantly with ‘I’m still here! Hello! If you don’t make me someone else will!’
One morning I woke up, had my first panic attack ever, and decided to go all in.
His First Reaction
To this day he claims he knew I was dead serious and was 100% supportive from day one, but I have my doubts if he thought I was going to bite down as hard and run with it quite like I did.
With his support, I’d finished up working in corporate advertising to spend time at home recovering from an illness. To make up for the lost salary, I started a small consulting business on all things marketing, blogging, SEO and Instagram.
Tim watched me helping people via skype early in the morning for the US, and still going when he got home from work in the evenings.
Trouble In Paradise
Even though I was ‘working from home in my yoga pants’, my brain definitely didn’t feel like I was at home. Tim would come home and ask about the washing, the cleaning, or that I hadn’t picked something up and a few times I know he asked me why I hadn’t showered.
Managing remote staff, running the financials of a business, hiring support staff, wondering if I could pay my bills, blog writing, UX designing and trying to remember to eat, let alone exercise and still have a relationship with my husband; there was a lot going on.
Although he was supportive, he didn’t really know how much work there was which caused many arguments in our marriage. I was doing 16hr days, almost every day and he didn’t really want to hear about it at the end of his long days at work.
I starting declining many social events and nights out.
Sometimes I even said no to nights in too – why would I watch Netflix when I could be working?? #hustleguilt
He was right – my work was impacting our marriage. But he was wrong about me quitting. That was never an option.
The idea was good, in fact, it was EXCELLENT.
600,000 people thought so too. They’d downloaded the app and were paying me to use it. People from more than 120 countries loved what I’d created – despite my lack of technical background.
It wasn’t his fault I’d started a business but it didn’t stop me from desperately asking for his help, and the more I asked, usually the more arguements we would have about it already taking over my life.
Justin Bieber changed everything. (No, really).
I’d had a really really hard week. Our server had broken and every single user was seeing a black screen of death. We’d fixed it, but getting it back through the app review process took days and days.
Every day bought in more complaints, more bad reviews and horrible reputational damage. It was heartbreaking! All of the work I’d been putting in looked like it was about to be flushed out to sea.
I was heading to a Justin Bieber concert with my sister when I collapsed from exhaustion. Someone called an ambulance and my sister nursed me back to health.
But just because I stopped, didn’t mean the customer support emails and complaints did. There were still 50,000 people using Plann at that stage, to grow their online business and to craft beautiful Instagram feeds. And they needed help. And when no-body was there, they got angry.
At this point, Tim realised what I’d built and how alone I was. He stepped up and stepped into the business. He kept his full time gig but managed hundreds of emails at night. Bit by bit he got through more than 7,000 emails. I’d get a little better every day, and he’d slowly clear out the emails.
Being involved made him see what I’d built….and how quickly it was growing.
Offering My Husband a Full-Time Role
At first Tim was going to work on a Sunday with me and help clean things up. A bit of office admin and accounting – but once he got a look in, he discovered there was enough work for him as 8 full-time jobs.
He started to get excited to work on Plann with me, coming home at night and diving into another project he could solve while I concentrated on marketing.
I was experiencing rapid growth and managing 15 people during the day. Tim started to notice I was suffering from burnout again and my mental health had started to take a bit of a negitive-nancy nosedive, and thankfully he approached me differently this time.
One day he offered to help me with the finance numbers, projections and budgeting – I was screaming thank you before he’d finished the sentence. He could do it in 1/3rd of the time I took. (I always knew he was talented but I found a brand new appreciation for his career in Finance!)
Eventually, ‘My little App’ turned over more money in one week than he took home in one month. We had been consistantly growing by more than 25% every month and there were no signs of slowing down either.
That afternoon he walked in the door and yelled at me ‘Christy! Why didn’t I reslise this sooner? What am I doing!?!’
The realisation that his salary was no longer required to support us had hit home on the drive. The idea that he had an opportunity to choose his own hours, work from anywhere with wifi, not wake up to an alarm and being able to wear hightop sneakers to work overwhelmed him.
Coupling that with my knowledge that he was smart, driven and talented and fantastic with people – and knew more about my business than anyone else on the planet (and hey, he wouldn’t need any onboarding!), it dawned on me that he was the operational genuis to my visionary craziness.
“I’d love to offer you a full-time job, but, your first task is writing the contract!”
He accepted. We opened a bottle of champagne and he walked into work and resigned the next day.
What it’s like to work, live and hobby together
There has definitely been an adjustment period for us both. His identity of working in finance, having built a great career over 10 years (and had recently been promoted) took some getting used to.
Also – he recieves half the pay cheque but in his words ‘I get double the quality of life.’
Surprisingly, we make a great team and something our own team and peers comment on frequently. We’re not a weird couple team who are co-dependant on each other.
He compliments me – where I get stressed and a bit emotional, he is incredibly calm and motivates the team. When he is stressed and overwhelmed, I encourage him to take breaks and slow down.
It’s amazing what having shared goals has done and I don’t have to explain as much, so at night we talk about un-related work things and even have hobbies! Rather than him being frustrated by my inability to focus on anything else, we now support each other in a business and a mission to build something special for our lives.
Any working relationship has its ups and downs don’t get me wrong. Surprisingly we don’t argue at work. We both have different strengths, we have different responsibilities and while we do work in the same office, we run different divisions and I claim I see him less.
We try not to talk about work at home but obviously there are nights when work needs to be done. If Tim doesn’t want to work anymore, I respect that and take my work into another room and vice versa.
There’s one clear rule though: no work in the bedroom.
Now, we can really celebrate our wins as a team – a proper partnership and have a shared goal. Yes, we are putting in the hard yards now but I’m so happy we’re doing it together.
Founder, PLANN, Christy Laurence