Invigorating raw superfoods to make you live, look & feel your best yet!
As we sit and spend time with Julianne Ponan (29) and Matt Ford (31) who run Creative Nature Superfoods it is clear to see the huge ambition, determination, respect and love that exists between them. What is also so clear is the way Couplepreneurs come together to run businesses is happening in so many different ways. Julianne and Matt joined forces as a result of Julianne suffering from pneumonia and needing someone she could trust – that person was Matt who then left his job to come and work in the business and be closer to Julianne and look after her as she recovered. It is interesting to note that trauma and illness forms part of many Couplepreneurs’ stories in setting up their businesses and running them.
Couplepreneur – Julianne Ponan & Matt Ford
Business Established – August 2012
Website – www.creativenaturesuperfoods.co.uk
Industry – Food
Proving ourselves wrong.
What is also very clear is whilst Julianne and Matt work incredibly hard they love what they do and have a lot of fun in building their business and learning and as Julianne says “I love what I do and whilst I am shattered at the end of the day I love going to work and coming home with Matt. I enjoy it immensely and that’s so important”.
However, the scepticism about whether couples can really make it work in running a business together was a view Julianne once held. As she told us…
“I was one of the people who said running a business with your partner could never work”.
After meeting at 16 and Julianne and Matt starting a relationship when she was 22 they have now worked together for 7 of the 8 years they have been in a relationship. With a turning of over £1m and selling in to several retailers internationally things are going exceptionally well for the Couplepreneur and their growing team.
We asked Julianne and Matt to share more of their story.
What are the benefits of being a Couplepreneur?
Julianne tells us “You’ve got someone there with you the whole time going through the same things and working for the same reasons and the same vision and when things are really down for one person on one day the other person can pick you up and be positive”. Julianne went on to say how constantly positive Matt is. Matt goes on to explain how “if we were working in different businesses maybe it wouldn’t be as helpful as we wouldn’t have the same vision for each other’s different jobs”. Julianne is the pragmatic and realistic voice in terms of targets and goals where as Matt is the huge optimistic that believes they will smash all targets. Julianne adds “as we experience lots of peaks and troughs, there is a huge strength and power in being a Couplepreneur and supporting one another and why I believe it is better running a business as a Couplepreneur than as an individual”. Both Matt and Julianne talk about how they can be so honest with one another together with how they are feeling at all levels and they believe this is different to what other Co-founders or entrepreneurs experience and they think this really helps the business.
And what are the challenges?
Julianne tell us how “you have to segregate things and think of it as a relationship at work because you don’t want to be bringing that home with you. Matt adds “you don’t want to be seen to be giving special treatment to one another just because you are in a relationship. Everyone has to be doing their job at work and when you go home that’s where the relationship is”.
Achieving great ‘Life Balance’ is a huge area for discussion amongst so many Couplepreneurs we are meeting with one of the partners often finding it more difficult to switch off. Julianne tells us “I find it tougher to switch off at home where as Matt finds it easier so I need to learn that skill to do that more which I learn from Matt. He is able to say something happened at work but we don’t need to talk about it now where as I will feel the need to keep going with it until we find a solution. If we weren’t working in the same business together you wouldn’t have to do that, you wouldn’t have to bring it home with you”.
Juiianne goes on to share how she feels there is just so much to do and is hugely driven and how “I don’t feel like I’ve achieved what I should have done by 30 and I’ve got so much still left to do. Matt adds “If she loses at a boardgame she will tear the board up. We are not allowed to play Monopoly in the house anymore”. For the record Julianne has just turned 29. There is an enormous amount being achieved.
Tell me more about the Life Balance – how balanced is it?
Matt tells us “Our work to life ratio is completely skewed and right now everything is work and we are taking Julianne’s birthday off but following that we are working 20 days straight. We still haven’t got there yet”. Julianne goes on to add “But I wouldn’t change it. It’s also a lot of fun. Going to the shows and the award evenings is great and all the networking is good fun. But it’s work, not play”. Julianne and Matt talk about their work to life balance being 85/15 at the moment. When asked if this is a more recent focus on work the Couplepreneur tell us that when they were launching in to a major retailer this went to 95/5 and it has gone to 70/30 at times but right now their focus is on scaling and they are pushing hard. They wouldn’t change a thing and they know all the hard work will come to fruition with the plans they have set being realised with Julianne adding “there is an outcome and goal and once we get there the balance will be a lot better”. They go on to say how they aren’t a ‘Mom and Pop shop’ – and Julianne adds ‘that’s what the stigma is – we don’t want a single shop, not that there’s anything wrong with that if people aspire to that but we want more, we are hugely ambitious”. This does also indeed reinforce another myth held that Couplepreneurs are only running little lifestyle businesses to earn a little extra cash.
What would you like to get out of joining Couplepreneurs and are there any benefits you are experiencing in these early weeks from having joined the global community?
For Julianne and Matt it is all about the network and “meeting other driven businesses where we can leverage off one another”. They are also excited about the PR that will take place to remove the stigma around Couplepreneurs and position this as something normal. Couplepreneurs want the idea of building a ‘Life Brand’ together recognised as a valuable, viable and recognised undertaking. Since joining the community they have had a follow up meeting with a Couplepreneur they met at the launch on 15th March 2018 (now known as International Couplepreneurs Day) and are creating a friendship as they share so many of the same challenges and opportunities. This couple have helped build Julianne and Matt’s confidence as they embark on a funding route and are introducing each other’s business to their networks to help drive growth.
“You’ve got someone there with you the whole time going through the same things and working for the same reasons and the same vision and when things are really down for one person on one day the other person can pick you up and be positive.”Julianne Ponan
What would you like to have known when starting out?
Together with the knowledge and insight of how to value a business and a greater understanding on how to go about funding they would have loved to have received more advise on how to get your company off the ground. Specifically Matt shared “there are ways to launch in to a supermarket and that would have been invaluable to have known rather than having to learn everything from scratch”.
Julianne added ‘It was very lonely at the beginning. I went from a person who went out most nights before running the business with Matt. I worked in banking before and we often partied at great venues with colleagues who became friends. I moved then to never going out and it was initially very lonely. I lost lots of friends as I didn’t have time to go out and they didn’t understand it and that was very hard to live through”.
What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring Couplepreneur?
To always support your partner and totally back them if you are in a meeting together. If there are things you want to review and discuss do it after the meeting not in the meeting.
Like to share your story?
If you would like to join our community and have the chance to share your own Couplepreneure story we would love to hear from you.
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