Mixing relationships with business is never a good idea.
Families were torn apart by disputes over money, from dissolution of marriages to rivalries between siblings over inheritance rights.
Despite all odds, these enterprising couples have found ways to keep their marriages going and start millions, even billions of dollars, businesses.
Through a combination of trust, hard work and sheer luck, both partners have contributed significantly to the growth of their companies.
From Hai Di Lao to Udders, here are some of Singapore's best couple preneurs and the role they have played in growing their empire.
Hai Di Lao
Shi Yonghong (left) Shu Ping (center) and Zhang Yong (right) / Photo credit: Forbes / Business Insider
With a market capitalization of $ 23.1 billion, sales of $ 3.8 billion and over 935 chain restaurants opened worldwide, Hai Di Lao has grown to become one of the world's leading restaurant brands.
Hai Di Lao, once a modest hotpot stand in rural Jianyang Province, Sichuan, was founded in 1994 as the idea of two couples: Zhang Yong and Ms. Shu Ping and Shi Yonghong and Ms. Li Haiyan.
Zhang Yong, who led the operation, came out of nowhere: He graduated from a vocational school in Chengdu and worked in a tractor factory with a minimum wage for six years.
The billionaire was reportedly penniless and counts his three co-founders among real investors whose modest savings were less than 10,000 yuan ($ 1,400).
Your trust in Zhang Yong has paid off. Currently, as chairman of Hai Di Lao and Singapore's richest man, Zhang Yong has earned a net worth of $ 21.6 billion.
Shu Ping has $ 5.1 billion net worth and serves as the director of management and strategic development for Hai Di Lao.
Shi Yonghong sits on the board of directors of Haidilao and Yihai International, a hot pot spice spin-off with a net worth of $ 12.6 billion.
His wife, Li Haiyan, has a net worth of $ 6.3 billion and has been a company director since 2009.
Katherine Lee (left) and George Quek (right) / Photo credit: Sweet Memoirs
With a market capitalization of approximately S $ 309.9 million, BreadTalk remains one of the largest food empires listed on the SGX, although its market valuation has fallen in recent years.
George Quek met his wife, Katherine Lee, while she was working as a supervisor in a Hong Kong craft store in Singapore's Parklane Shopping Mall. The two started dating in 1983 and married in 1986.
The entrepreneurial couple soon started their first business selling dragon beard sweets while living abroad in Taiwan. It has expanded to include five kiosks with sales of over S $ 240,000 per month.
After selling several successful companies in the F&B industry in Taiwan and Shanghai over a period of 11 years, Quek returned to Singapore and started the popular Food Junction chain of Food Courts in 1993.
In 2000, the serial entrepreneur took another foray into bakeries and opened BreadTalk, now one of Singapore's leading brands.
The group now has over 1,000 retail stores opening over 17 stores, with popular subsidiaries such as Toast Box, Din Tai Fung and Food Republic.
Lee is the power behind the throne and serves as the vice chairman of BreadTalk. She is also the brain behind one of BreadTalk's most popular products: the pork tenderloin, which sold over 1.3 million pieces in its first year of sales and remains the bakery's best-selling product.
With nearly 50 years in a romantic and business relationship, the BreadTalk power couple is still going strong.
George announced last year that he would target a market cap of S $ 1 billion by 2022 – although those plans may have been disrupted by Covid-19.
In February, George, Katherine, and a major shareholder announced a voluntary contingent cash offer to purchase all of BreadTalk's common stock at $ 0.77 each in order to delist the company.
Wong Peck Lin (left) and David Yim (right) Photo credit: Vulcan Post
With estimated gross sales of S $ 20 million for 2019, Udders is one of the most popular ice cream parlors in Singapore.
The café now supplies more than 400 retail stores with ice cream and has five island-wide “scoop shops”.
Udders was founded by the married couple David Yim and Wong Peck Lim and started as a passion project between the two of them.
After David left his permanent job as a secondary school teacher, the aspiring entrepreneur began making ice cream using only equipment ordered off the net.
The udder menu started with just 12 flavors made from liquid nitrogen right in their living room. In July 2007, the couple decided to open an ice cream parlor along with S $ 150,000 of their savings pumped into the business.
Times were tough – earnings were passed on to Udders and the couple relied on Peck Lin's full-time business consultancy job to bring home the bacon for their two children while David worked full-time at Udders.
Udders now has over 100 employees and sees Indonesia as the next expansion market. In the next three years 10 large cities are to be added.
The couple even launched another ice cream label, Nuude Ice Cream, which has 35 percent fewer calories, sugar, and fats.
Benedict Leow (left), Anna Lim (center), Andrew Chan (right) / Photo credit: Vulcan Post
With a market capitalization of S $ 23.184 million, five brands and over 30 retail stores across Singapore, The Soup Spoon is Singapore's largest soup franchise.
The brand has even expanded to include chilled packs of soup, which are sold in large supermarkets across Singapore.
The Soup Spoon was founded by Anna Lim, Benedict Leow and Andrew Chan and is a collaborative venture between three best friends, two of whom eventually got married.
The three co-founders of the soup spoon first met as students at Murdoch University in Perth, all of whom shared a love of soup.
Anna later married Andrew in 2001 and was the first to quit her full-time embryologist job to start building the soup spoon. The latter two soon followed and formed the central team that ran the company's operations.
In 2002, the three college colleagues invested S $ 250,000 in each other to open the first soup spoon store in Raffles City. The franchise grew rapidly, with 2008 sales of S $ 7.9 million, despite several issues that resulted in a loss of S $ 100,000 at one store.
Lim Hui Nan (left), Howard Lo (right) and their children / Photo credit: Vulcan Post
Running some of Singapore's premier F&B concepts, Empire Eats is the product of an entrepreneurial couple who met and stayed together through their mutual love for food.
American-born Howard first came to Singapore in 2003 and opened the first Standing Sushi Bar business in August 2009 with an upfront investment of around S $ 150,000 while working full-time at Microsoft.
It was at the bar that Howard first met his wife, Hui Nan, who worked as a lawyer for a boutique intellectual property law firm near the joint. Hui Nan went to Howard's Bar for dinner or drinks almost every evening, which eventually led to a marriage with two children in 2012.
The two ran the Empire Eats group together as equal partners.
Howard describes their marriage as a complementary mix of personal and business relationships, with Howard acting as the visionary while Hui Nan acting as the company's executor.
The Empire Eats Group now has Tanuki Raw, Salmon Samurai, the Secret Mermaid, Sumo Bar Happy, Shinkansen, The World is Flat and Black Dot Sweet Provisions in its portfolio.
Today the brand has a monthly turnover of at least S $ 1 million.
John Chen (far left) and Lee Yue Xian (center left), Paladin Hsu (center right) and Selene Ong (far right) / Photo credit: Vulcan Post
Aloha Poke is expected to generate over S $ 3.8 million in annual sales and has quickly established itself in Singapore's competitive F&B scene since its inception in 2015.
The idea for Aloha Poke was started by another couple of married couples and came about after the group vacationed in Hawaii.
John Chen and Lee Yue Xian as well as Paladin Hsu and Selene Ong experienced "love at first sight" when they got their first taste of Sack in a supermarket called Foodland.
When the group couldn't find an alternative after their return to Singapore, they jointly opened the first Aloha Poke outlet on Amoy Street, which eventually became three outlets in Marina Bay, Jewel Changi and Westgate.
The business has even expanded to the St. Martins Center in Perth.
The couple who work together stay together
The mix of personal and public life isn't always ideal, but these couples who have stuck with their deals and marriages for decades seem to have found the formula for success.
While some have built Forbes' publicly traded companies, other couples have steadily grown their startups into some of Singapore's premier names.
Did we miss any power pairs? Let us know in the comments below!
Selected Image Source: Business Insider / Sweet Memories / Aloha Poke / Love and Bravery / Tanuki Raw / Soup Spoon / Udder