It sounds like a match made in heaven – couples that work together and live together. But does working side by side really work? And how do you leave the shop talk on the shop floor? To get the lowdown on how couples in business make it work, we spoke to William Powell and Dr Elen ApThomas, co-founders and owners of The Medical Sanctuary.

Established in July 2006, The Medical Sanctuary recently celebrated its tenth anniversary of trading. These two obviously know how to make work ‘work’, and alongside raising a gorgeous family they have expanded their business, developed a proprietary detox program (FFDetox) and maintained their sense of self and spouse – a tricky juggle at the best of times, but even more so when work is so intricately interwoven through marriage.

William and Elen chatted to us about the business of keeping it in the family.


What were your top three concerns when deciding to go into business together?

William: Having a single undiversified income stream. I gave up my legal career to pursue the business. It also required us to relocate back to the Gold Coast from Brisbane.

Elen: That we would always be stressed at the same time, whether we would drive each other mad working and living together and whether we could turn off when we got home.


How do you allocate the tasks of running the business between you?

William: I run the business in its entirety and Elen practices medicine. We then share the difficult decisions and I action them.

Elen: Luckily we have clear divisions in our roles and respect each other in those roles.


How do you resolve disagreements in the strategic direction of your business?

William: Fortunately, we have always been on the same page and like-minded.

Elen: Our goals and values are aligned so what’s to disagree over?


Do you ban work-talk at home, and if so, how do you keep work at work?

William: I will always discuss issues whether good or bad with Elen at any time, I value her opinion. We rarely get to talk during work hours anyway.

Elen: No, it’s in both our interests to resolve work stuff as efficiently as possible, the location doesn’t matter.


What is the best and worst thing about running a business with your spouse?

William: The best is I never have to worry about my business partner trying to rip me off. The worst . . . I cannot say – I have to work with this woman and she will read this.

Elen: The best is that it has enhanced my respect for my husband. The worst? We work too many hours.


The Medical Sanctuary comprises a leading team of holistic wellness and integrative health practitioners, at Benowa on the Gold Coast // www.themedicalsanctuary.com.au

Courtney Robinson

Courtney Robinson  

Courtney Robinson is a Gold Coast mum, passionate foodie, whole foods recipe creator and personal trainer certified in holistic digestive health and nutrition. Follow @athletist_ or visit athletist.com.au for recipes, workout tips and training hacks.