Stephanie Breedlove On the Slowly but Surely Way to Success and Running a Successful Business with Her Spouse
The Big Switch
After giving birth to her eldest son, Stephanie Breedlove was ready to go back to her corporate job. The problem was that she and her husband Bill needed to hire a nanny.
Stephanie and Bill are both accountants who knew the ins and outs of tax and payroll systems. They knew that any person paying for in-home care needs to withhold taxes, else the IRS could penalize them for not complying with state laws. They decided to do it the right way: hire a nanny legally and provide benefits just like a company does to their employees. At that time in 1991, Stephanie quickly realized that there was no enough information available for household owners like them.
It was then that an entrepreneurial idea was born.
Stephanie and Bill founded Breedlove and Associates in 1992 after recognizing the need to help homeowners in managing household payroll, taxes, and other state requirements. In 2012, 20 years after building and steering the company to success, the couple sold Breedlove and Associates to Care.com.
Asked if being acquired was part of their plan, Stephanie jokes that she would have loved to think that it was part of their exit strategy. The truth is, they built the company without an exit strategy in mind. The company’s goals were first, for the family to afford to live. Next, to grow the company, and lastly, to plan out where the company wants to go next. Stephanie shares that they only discussed their next move, including an exit strategy, on the company’s 15th year of operation. The acquisition came naturally as part of the natural progression of things – to combine and join forces together with another company to provide a more comprehensive solution for both in-home care providers and families requiring services.
After the acquisition in 2012, Stephanie and Bill stayed on for 2 more years as VP for Care.com HomePaySM Provided by Breedlove to help out in the transition. Currently, they serve as strategic advisors for Care.com.
As Spouses and Business Partners
Stephanie describes herself and Bill as conservative tax people. Rather than ditching it all and taking the leap to entrepreneurship together, the couple proceeded with a more practical and wiser approach. Stephanie went first and tested the waters. In 1998, Bill joined her in leading the company. It was 6 years of “bring-you-to-your-knees work” as Stephanie describes it.
The spouse and business partner setup has worked tremendously well for them. Stephanie lightheartedly shares that the family’s running joke is that she and Bill are better business partners than marital partners. If they ever ended up breaking the marriage during the course of the business, they’d probably still be business partners.
So we ask her opinion: is it advisable for every couple to go into business together? She shares 2 things that a couple should consider before deciding to take the entrepreneurship path with their spouse:
- Does your spouse bring skills to the table that you don’t have?
- Will you still like your spouse even if you don’t like each other as business partners?
If the answer to both questions is yes, go ahead and put up a new venture with your spouse. Otherwise, you might end up breaking both your marriage and your business.
The Importance of Slow Growth
Stephanie believes that given a longer period, entrepreneurs can do even greater things.
She says, “A lot of investors miss out on great opportunities because they just aren’t willing to be a little bit more long-term oriented.” Breedlove and Associates was able to stand on its own on its 12th year of running. At the time when the company was founded, the in-home care industry was in disarray when it comes to defining guidelines and identifying best practices. Breedlove and Associates laid the foundation to organize and put together a solution for the industry. The couple’s vision and leadership took the company to greater heights – Breedlove and Associates became the industry leader in payroll and household tax in terms of the number of clients and revenue generation.
If you are an entrepreneur navigating in a similarly divided industry, expect to face more challenges. Keep your eyes on your vision and strive harder to accomplish your missions. Even if it may take longer just like how Breedlove and Associates took 12 years to fly, know that you should not easily give up on what you are trying to do. You’ll never know if success is just around the corner. Breedlove and Associates is proof that investing long-term and persistent hard work pays off.
Stephanie sees herself and Bill going into a new business venture in the future – whether grassroots, via acquisition, or through investments.
Tune in to EBW Studios for more.
To know more about Stephanie, visit her blog at http://stephaniebreedlove.com/.