Using their business, legal and technology expertise, along with the help of another married couple, Ian and Keeley established WOW as an umbrella company.
It has seen huge success, with one of its well-known franchise brands being Baby Sensory, which provides baby development classes for parents and babies.
One in 20 babies born in the UK today attend Baby Sensory classes with their parents, Ian explained. But how have they achieved such success? Ian reveals all below:
How did you both meet?
We worked for the same IT company, LogicaCMG.
What inspired you to start a business together?
We met with our now business partners, Dr Lin and Howard Day (also husband and wife) through their son. He was working for me at the time. We suggested that they had a very interesting business model and that we may be interested in working with them.
Keeley visited the classes and was very impressed by the engagement of the parents and babies. She completed some market research and we decided to invest along with the programme founders, in the development of the Baby Sensory business.
What specific roles do you both have?
Today Keeley is focused on technology and business efficiency. I deal with commercial and legal matters. We both look out for long term strategic opportunities for the business.
How do you separate work disagreements from your personal life?
To be honest, we rarely disagree on work matters as we share a clear common vision for the business.
Where we have differences of opinion, we generally look at how a decision will impact our long term vision. In any event, no work decision is as important to us as our relationship together so we have an evening out and agree to discuss things again the next day!
Do you have any rules to leave work at work?
We have, of course, tried this but inevitably we discuss work in the evenings, weekends and on holidays too. To balance this, we will often take a walk or long lunch during the working week to talk through business challenges.
This means we can have a good work life balance and also take advantage of creative thoughts and discussions which often happen when we are not sat in the office working. Even on holiday or on a spa day we often end up talking to others about business, which generates new ideas.
What are your individual strengths?
Keeley is a very clear thinker who looks for and generally finds the easiest way to deal with things. I would say I’m good at listening to Keeley and implementing her ideas (which I often claim as my own).
If you could swap your business partner for somebody else, who would it be?
Neither of us can think of anyone we would swap with, what works is that we share our passion for our business and our work and life are intertwined.
What’s been your biggest business achievement to date?
Recruiting an excellent network of franchisees who have helped us to become the leading Baby Development business in the UK with one in 20 babies born in the UK attending our classes each week and more than 360 franchisees across the country.
What are the perks of running a business together?
Being able to take time off when we need to, which has meant we have not had to miss school sports days, school plays and other family events.
We know the work has to be done but we have some choice over when we do it.
What are the downsides of running a business together?
We do end up talking about our business during our leisure time and there is of course a greater risk through not having one person in the relationship who earns a “safe wage”.
What celebrity couple are you most like?
Belle and the Beast – Keeley likes reading books and would never have her head turned by someone like Gaston, whereas I am… kind hearted.
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