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Separating home from biz

Family-run business is a tough balance between business and home.
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"Husbands and wives need to have very clear rules when it comes to being in a business together,” says Carl Balita, well-known radio host and serial entrepreneur. “You don’t want to bring the stress of business at home which however, inevitably, would happen. But it’s all about creating a win-win situation.”

[related|post]It’s something Carl and his wife and business partner, Roselyn, have learned to do. Married for 14 years, they manage the LYF Center Medical Spa on Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City. (The initials stand for “look young forever.”) Started in 2006 with what was then a kids’ spa, the business later evolved into a family spa. “Both of us were on our way to a spa and the kids wanted to join,” recalls Carl. “Of course, we said, ‘No. Kids aren’t allowed in the spa.’ And they protested saying, ‘How come there are no spas for kids?’ And that gave us the idea.”

In 2006 they created the Little Lambs Kids Spa. They eventually added a wellness clinic and a salon. And while it became a hit with kids, soon, the parents impatiently waiting for their children to finish their session wanted some pampering too. “So came the facial for mothers, eventually the foot spa, then later on the massage for parents, and until it became a family concept” in 2008 with the medical spa.

A registered pediatrician trained in infant and child massage, Roselyn serves as the center’s medical director.  Carl serves as the overall head. Their different backgrounds prove to be a source of some conflict, they admit. “From an entrepreneurial point of view, you can easily expand this through franchising,” says Carl. “But to her, it’s dangerous because it’s her license, it’s her brand. You’re dealing with life. What if a child is hurt in the process? It would affect her medical standing.” Conflicts therefore arise in the decision-making process.

While it’s easier to solve such conflicts in a typical business environment, having your spouse as your partner adds a whole different factor. So for the Balitas, a simple clarification of responsibilities was in order. “When it comes to home decisions, she has the final word,” says Carl. “When it comes to business decisions, I have the final word. But that doesn’t make you a dictatorial boss. It’s all about creating a win-win scenario.”

Their first rule is to think objectively. According to Carl, “Conflicts are good if they are seen objectively. The problems happen when conflicts become personal because you’re husband and wife.” The solution, they realized, was to “depersonalize” the problem.

“If the conflict, for example, arose from people—people she likes and people I don’t like—we depersonalize the conflict. We remove the faces and go to the bottom line. How much did that person generate? What’s her evaluation? Then it becomes objective,” he says.

According to Roselyn, “We used to always have conflicts because I never understood the business terms that he used. And I took it very personally.” Coming from different backgrounds simply fanned the flames. The solution, she learned, was to learn Carl’s language.

“That’s when I decided to study spa management. Now I understand,” she says. “You can come from different perspectives,” adds Carl, “but you need to speak the same language.”

In the end though, the goal, as with all businesses, is to earn. And that, says Carl, is the common ground that all couples in business must remember.

“We want this business to succeed. And therefore, who else will refuse to do something that needs to be done? You will do anything that needs to be done.” For better or for the best.

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