To celebrate National Sibling Day (10th April), we’re bringing you the unique story of Kerry and Stacey Barsby.
Not only are they sisters running a business together, they have the unique element of being twins. Founded by Kerry in 2008 while she was still at school, ClubsComplete works with schools and other community organisations to provide enriching activities in rural or disadvantaged areas.
Stacey joined the business a year later, and the twins haven’t looked back since, going on to win the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for The Midlands at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2017.
We caught up with 26-year old Kerry to find out what it’s like to work so closely with your twin sister.
Whose idea was it to go into business together?
Kerry: I started the business in 2008, more than anything to create work for myself whilst I was finishing sixth form and taking a working year to earn some money before going to University. Stacey had a great understanding of the business and had been involved in it naturally for some time so she joined the business a year later when we realised it had expanded dramatically already. It wasn’t until around 2010 that we realised (whilst at University) we could actually make our careers out of the business, it had been a hobby for us up until then.
Did you have any concerns or reservations about working so closely with your sister?
To be honest, at the time neither of us had time to really sit down and analyse our concerns or reservations because the business was moving so quickly. It was more a case of Stacey coming on board to make things work as the workload for me was completely unmanageable! (And at 18 we tended not to think about our concerns or reservations as much as we would now!)
However, as soon as we started working together we realised that our personalities and skill sets are entirely opposite, which we have found to be such a positive thing for the business and our team of staff. For example, Stacey is more of a people person and has amazing ideas for marketing, sales and management of the team so her role is orientated towards her skill set and I am more of an analytical & strategic thinker, so I oversee the finance side and work on strategic plans for the future of all four of our businesses.
Do you think working with family makes it harder to separate work and home life?
It obviously makes it more difficult to separate work and home life than it would be if we didn’t work together. However, as we are at a very fortunate stage in our businesses now that we have a manager in each of them, we tend not to take stress home as much anymore. When we talk about work out of the office, it is only because we are excited about new projects etc. so they are positive conversations that we really enjoy – therefore it has no detrimental effect on our relationship with each other.
To be honest, some of our best ideas have been thought up when we are sat at the pool on holiday!
We also only talk about work if it is only us two present – we never talk about work when other family members or friends are present. As we have just brought our other sister into our newest business as managing director, this is something that we have now started to work on with her too as we are all very excited about the early stages of The Bilingual Day Nursery that we have recently built.
Do you ever see yourselves not working together?
No, we thoroughly enjoy the work-life balance, freedom and flexible lifestyle that we have created for ourselves through the businesses so we can’t imagine our lives without them now! It is great to be able to have the flexibility and freedom to book holidays together, or just organise a half day trip out without having to restrict ourselves at all.
What’s the best thing about working with your sister?
The best thing for us about working together so far has been the journey. Being able to celebrate our successes together has been such an exciting part of what we do!
What’s the hardest thing about working with your sister?
The hardest thing for us, due to being sisters, has been the lows that we have experienced as we can’t help but take those kinds of problems home as they are constantly on your mind.
Do you think your connection as twins helps to make your better business partners?
Yes, absolutely. We have very different skill sets and personalities but we have very similar entrepreneurial mindsets and opinions which works so well as we are able to be very confident in making decisions when the other is out of the office. Another positive that really helps us be better business partners is our ability to be completely and utterly honest with each other (there’s no one else that would be as honest as we are with each other which helps us consistently improve).
What is next for you on your entrepreneurial journey?
Our next plan is to franchise our first business ClubsComplete so that it is easier to be nationally local. We aim to have the business franchised by 2020.