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When Your Loved One Isn't an Entrepreneu ...

When Your Loved One Isn't an Entrepreneur

Aug 17, 2022

Are you getting relentless questions, insane demands and the occasional hate mail… from your Loved One?

The startup venture challenges most personal relationships. Your sleep, your schedule, your health, and your relationships can all suffer when you’re in the throes of launching a new business.

For those observing the journey… it's not easy watching a founder struggle with the day-to-day problems of growing a business. The middle of the night sweats, the floor pacing, the constant disappearing act and distraction from day-to-day life.

Many partners/spouses want your suffering to end and may plead with you to please get a steady job and paycheck!

Okay, maybe you married the wrong spouse (it happens). But more often than not it’s a communication breakdown. If your spouse doesn’t support your entrepreneurial adventure, there are ways to get your relationship back on track.

How to keep your relationship thriving when you’re building a business.

For any startup founder or small business owner - having the support of their spouse, life partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever you choose to call them - is essential. Entrepreneurs face a lot of tough, trying times, and they need a supportive spouse to cheer them on in the dark days. Knowing your spouse has your back and fully supports you offers a great sense of comfort and fosters deeper connection.

Because a founder is so focused on the business, they often think “if you’re not part of the solution, step aside.” You can’t do this with your partner! To keep your relationship intact, you must create space and time for them and bring them into the Big Picture of your startup.

Relationship Expert Karen Jones shares this advice: “Your spouse’s recipe for success may be all about a steady job and providing financial security for the family. You will experience more harmony - and cooperation - by appreciating their view of the world. And make sure you let them know how much their support of your dream means to you, and to the success of your startup.”

Many loved ones want to be helpful, but nearly all want to be included to some nominal degree. So don’t hide what you are doing. Sharing what’s new with your business keeps them in the loop.

Why not tell them about the blog you just wrote, interesting connections you’ve made, the pitch deck you’re working on, the manufacturer you found, the speaking gig you have secured? In most cases inclusion in important activities, especially ones that involve risk to lifestyle and assets, is a better relationship strategy.

On the other end of the spectrum, you must be circumspect about over-sharing. Let’s face it… the startup journey is nearly always a nail biter… there is no guarantee of a successful outcome and the entrepreneurial poker game is not for everyone.

Talk to your spouse, set up ground rules around how much conversation involves the business. Make it a point to strike the right balance between under-sharing and over-sharing.

This is why hiring a business coach or mentor is so important. Their role is to be your sounding board (or whining board!). They know what the entrepreneurial roller coaster ride is like and can be a safe harbor for you, providing a consistent, solid base of certainty in a world filled with uncertainty.

Find a way to deal with the finances associated with a startup. You’ve heard it many times: The number one reason for divorce is not infidelity or falling out of love – it’s money. You’ve got to respect the joint finances and seek common ground on the life purpose of the business venture.

“It’s not fair to ask your spouse to be immediately accepting of this investment of the family funds,” shares Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant Blair Glaser. “Keep having the conversation, keep negotiating, and find creative ways to finance the business that leaves both partners feeling that their personal concerns and vision are being accounted for.”

Loved Ones: it’s important for you to respect the effort behind the business… to admire your entrepreneur’s dedication instead of being annoyed by it.

Tell your partner you admire his or her tenacity and perseverance. Speak your appreciation, even when you feel frustrated. This will help you and your partner stay connected.

A gentle reminder for the supportive spouse/partner: Did your entrepreneur invest money in an idea that flopped? Forgive it. Don’t bring up past failures during heated arguments. It damages self-esteem and creates a wedge between the two of you.

The skeptical spouse can be an asset!

Doing the work of convincing your spouse about the viability of your startup will make your business plan better. Their questions and concerns are important feedback to help you fine tune the risks associated with your business.

For years the opposite was true with my husband and me… it was always “go for it” or “that’s a great idea, do it!” We needed a skeptic! Skepticism can provide a healthy balance, provided it doesn’t turn into hurtful criticism.

For months, or perhaps even years, everything related to the business will seem critical and urgent. But humans are not built to work incessantly. We need rest, leisure, and relationships.

If you haven't been taking care of yourself or spending time with loved ones, your partner will probably call you out on this--and you should thank him/her for doing so. Giving your brain and body much-needed breaks will, in the long run, help you work more efficiently and effectively.

Remember - your spouse is with you because of you, not your business.

Many founders, understandably, are tempted to equate their sense of identity with the business. If the company succeeds, you're an amazing person worthy of love and admiration. If the company tanks, you're a nobody.

Our partners can separate out you--the person they chose to be with outside of any title or shared allocations -- and the work you do. They help you remember that your worth is not dependent on the success of the company, something that will be invaluable as you ride out the many ups and downs of the startup journey.

The most important piece of advice: Share the vision. Paint the picture, talk to your loved one about how happy running your business makes you feel. Explain what your 12 months, 3 year and 5-year vision is and how grateful you are for the opportunity to pursue your dreams in this way. Let them know their support and sacrifice means the world to you, and you understand how hard they are working to keep the relationship thriving.

It’s the possibilities that inspire a founder to startup a business, not the guarantee. Help your partner by focusing on the positives, and how much you appreciate their support. Include them in the journey to the extent they are capable of participating. Speak up, share, include and watch the transformation in your relationship.

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