An Entrepreneurs Guide to a Supportive Spouse
The dynamics of your marriage can make or break your business. Growing your business takes a clear vision, effective operational processes, profitable marketing and blah, blah, blah. Entrepreneurs fail for many reasons, but there’s one that you rarely hear about in blogs or industry magazines.
How many businesses have failed because of troubled marriages or relationships? I’m not sure and most probably wouldn’t attribute the crumbling business to their significant other. However, I’ve come to learn that most business problems are just personal problems in disguise.
In only a few short years of consulting entrepreneurs, relationship conflicts have come to my attention more often than not. I heard it from friends, “the difficulty amplifies at each next step…”significant other”, spouse, family plus one and so on.” I even had these frustrations a few times as a growing entrepreneur.
In looking back I believed it would all work itself out once I got the business rolling. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of ups and downs before a business is functioning like a well oiled machine. After 10 years of both failed relationships and businesses I decided I needed a plan.
Keys to a More Supportive Spouse
Consider Their Fears
Its not easy “stepping into the shoes” of another person. Even then it’s even more difficult to understand their point of view. We tend to look at things the way we believe them to be for others or want them to be. Or, even worse, we don’t even try to see it another way. This will kill any thought of your spouse supporting you.
Instead, think about what they’re afraid of. What fears might they experience along this journey with you? Is it financial struggle, is it less time together, is it restricting them from doing what they are passionate for? If you can stomp out initial fears by answering their doubts upfront you’ll catch their attention.
Make sure to consider their emotional, social, logical and physical fears. Done well and they’ll feel as though you’ve done your homework, you have a plan and you’ve considered their perspective(and hopefully you really have). This alone can make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.
Assure them Priority
It’s easy to get caught up in all the responsibilities of a business, however your spouse and family is more important than work. Give them the confidence that you’ll make the time to keep them number one on your list. It’s important to share in what they believe to be meaningful.
Drop you’re work for them anytime they need you and making sure to take part in their priorities. Schedule time away from work, completely unplugged (no mobile devices) just for experiences together. Never lose sight of what’s most important and you’ll be happy both at work and at home.
Share Your Purpose
Don’t try and sell them on a vision of all the material things such as making a million dollars, having thousands of fans and building an empire. Those things have little emotional value because most people view those as just a dream, not a reality. The majority (yes, even your awesome spouse) instantly think about entrepreneurship as a rough road that has taken many casualties. That’s a picture you don’t want your spouse to imagine. As much as they love and believe in you these riches are unlikely in their eyes.
Instead, share your internal motivation. Of course we’d all enjoy having a “milli”, fans galore and a market dominating business, but refrain for now. Share why it’s important to you to do meaningful work, impact the community and support the family for the long haul. Despite the bad odds and the high risk of entrepreneurship people will overlook those for being a part of a purposeful journey. If your business is filled with exciting and fulfilling projects you may be able to override entrepreneur history for awhile.
Ask for Support
There will always be ups and down in your business. Including your spouse during the highs, having their support when you hit the lows and appreciating their perspective during the places in between is truly a game changer. This not only helps hold the business together, but it can bring the family closer.
Entrepreneurship can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be if you have their belief and affirmation. Don’t believe you automatically have their support in everything you do. Open up, be vulnerable and share your deep need of their support. If you’re not in this together you can expect either the business or the relationship to crumble, even worse…both.
Bring them to the party
Some spouses want no part of entrepreneurship. However, I believe the more you include them in the journey the faster they find an appreciation for what you do.
That doesn’t mean you have put them on your full-time schedule, but rather ask them if they’d help set up one of your events or assist you on a specific part of an important project. Let them experience the complexities, the emotional demands and the time constraints you work in and enjoy.
Don’t just beat them up with the tough stuff, but also allow them to enjoy many of the perks of your work. Bring them along on a speaking gig to another city, have them participate in a continuing education seminar or share in the final profit numbers of a recently offered product line.
You never know what will attract your spouse enough to love it like you do. I was lucky enough to have my wife join the ride, as a team member and then in advising her to start her own business. Either way, including your spouse in what you do can make transitions easier.
Cultivate Their Belief
There are a lot of heavy demands when it comes to starting your own business. Every decision is loaded with responsibility. If you want long term commitment from your spouse you have to gain their trust. You must follow through on your promises by sowing the seeds daily. Cultivate trust through aligning your words with your actions, being productive and implementing the plan.
Stick to your timeline, complete tasks accordingly and hit the milestones you’ve planned. It is up to you to manage the risks and rewards in order to stay on track. Don’t sabotage yourself, be consistent, celebrate the victories and keep implementing until you reach your exit velocity.
This cannot be done if you first do not trust yourself. Harness the courage to conquer challenges along the way and you will win the trust of your spouse.
Both marriages and businesses have crumbled because of lack of support. A business needs to be nurtured almost as much as a relationship if you want to be successful. You will struggle to achieve this without the support of your spouse.
It’s always a tall task to build a business, but with a supportive spouse you’ll have twice the resources to make it a bit easier. We (my wife & I) believe if you apply the steps you’ll not only amplify your business, but your marriage will hold a deeper connection. We still have much to learn, but we’ve seen the results in our relationship and in our businesses. We hope you’ll see them as well.
What advice do you have for the Entrepreneur and their spouse? Start or join the conversation by commenting below.