Couple who took their partnership to a whole new level

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Working together has taught James and Amanda Hatt a lot about each other                                        (TK712) Working together has taught James and Amanda Hatt a lot about each other (TK712)

Husband and wife team James and Amanda Hatt are celebrating five years of living and working together twenty-four seven.

The couple, who live in Greenfield Road, Devizes, are part of a powerful sector of our economy as 66 per cent of all small to medium-sized enterprises in the UK are family firms.

James and Amanda are both directors of James Hatt & Associates in Couch Lane, Devizes – a business offering musculoskeletal specialist services.

In layman’s terms, their staff practise podiatry, physiotherapy, sports medicine and related treatments.

But five years of working and living together has taught James and Amanda a lot about each other which they didn’t know before.

James, who’s 37, is Wiltshire born and bred.

His dad Brian ran a well-known local business, Digby’s Toystore in Trowbridge.

James, after being educated in Wiltshire, qualified as a chartered physiotherapist in 1997 and worked in the NHS for six years before settling back in the county and setting up his own business.

Amanda, 35, originally from Preston in Lancashire, had a corporate career in customer services when she and James met.

The couple got together and they have a teenage daughter Stephanie, known as Steph.

Amanda had had a very successful career at management level in the corporate world working in customer services with employers including Littlewoods.

Before joining James, she’d worked with mail order company, Urchin.

However, she realised her next step to progress within the company would mean being away from home.

“It meant I would have to be away in London and travelling often to Asia, Sweden and overseas frequently and I didn’t want that,” she said.

“We are a tight-knit family, the three of us, and Steph was a younger teenager at the time and it just wasn’t the right thing for me.”

It was at this point James suggested Amanda should join the business, making it a truly family firm.

Amanda said: “He’d wanted me to join the business before but I’d resisted it as I enjoyed my career.

“However, my priorities changed and five years ago I agreed and became the non-clinical director looking after the daily affairs of the business, the administration, the customer services and the clerical side of things.

“I realised I wasn’t aware of the demands of running your own business.

“Having come from a big organisation, there were lots of discussions and flexible decisions, but when you have your own business everything is on you.

“It’s hard to understand this until you experience it on a day-to-day basis.”

James said: “I became the full-time clinical director.

“I soon found that one of the benefits of having Amanda in the business was the ability to share the pressures and responsibilities of the business and that was a big bonus.

“If I needed to come into work on a Saturday to get things done, Amanda understood.”

Amanda said: “Clearly we had a strong relationship as husband and wife but our professional lives had been very different and therefore we were bringing different perspectives to our marriage.

“Previously I would often get very frustrated if James needed to work over the weekend as I saw that as ‘our time’.

“But I came to see that what he’d achieved at work was phenomenal and that allowing him the freedom to give the extra time when it was needed was important.

“It’s led to our marriage becoming stronger.”

However, the couple have some useful tips around being a family at home and in business.

  • Don’t take your work home – or at last agree a cut-off time at evenings and weekends and don’t discuss work after these times. Very few things are so important they can’t wait until tomorrow.
  • Don’t share a work problem if you know it’ll be stressful for the other person or you can fix it yourself. If you can, sort it out and fill them in later. This allows them to focus on their priorities and not get distracted.
  • Don’t go out for a romantic meal and spend the whole time discussing the business.

Whilst these are all very important and exciting they should be discussed at work.

  • Try not to work from home as it confuses the boundaries between work and home life.
  • Don’t get into a habit of discussing every minor detail about day-to-day decisions. Agree detailed job specifications and stick to them religiously.
  • Don’t confuse your business relationship with your marriage. Sometimes at work, you have to demonstrate more controlling skills which are not appropriate for home. n Remember to have fun together in and outside the workplace. Don’t get bogged down with all the responsibility.
  • Remember you are in control of your workload. As company directors you can choose how quickly you want to grow your business and that will allow you to live your life at the same time as growing something special for your future.

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