There’s a popular saying that goes as: “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” It’s definitely true; especially in the case of managing a business and keeping a marriage strong. Because the amount of effort and focus it takes to start a business and be an entrepreneur is the same as the effort and focus it takes to have a good marriage.
Think of it this way: your business is like a relationship. It requires constant love and attention. Sometimes there are successes and other times there are failures. Plus, there are no set hours; it needs you all the time.
The same is true of marriage. When you promised to be there for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, you meant it. That could mean any number of successes or failures, at any hour of the day. The problem comes when it conflicts with the relationship you have with your startup business.
So how can entrepreneurs succeed at work without wrecking their marriage? Is it possible?
Here are some tips to consider:
Set Aside Clear ‘Spouse Time’
Your spouse needs to know upfront that even though you are starting a business, you won’t just give them your “leftover” time. So outline specific prime hours that work for you and your honey. Those are the hours you will never, under any circumstances, work on business stuff. It’ll just be spouse time. That could be Friday 6-midnight, Saturday afternoons, 2 hours every weekday evening for dinner and relaxing together; really it is what works for you and your spouse. Write those hours down and put them on the fridge, and also schedule them into your phone. Be vigilant about keeping those hours. Then use them! When you are in marriage time, be focused on your spouse. Do stuff together. Talk. Watch their favorite TV show. Go for a walk. Have date night. Essentially, this time is to fill each other’s’ cups, so to speak.
Include Your Spouse in the Business—If They Want To
Entrepreneurs often get so excited over their business, they don’t realize they are leaving others behind—especially those closest to them. Just because your spouse didn’t come up with the idea or is as excited about it as you, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to take part in it. Have a meeting and discuss whether your spouse wants to be involved. Then determine in which way would be most beneficial for all. Perhaps they are better at finances or working with customers or marketing. Here is the key—agree to a trial run of 3 months. Then revisit and talk about what is working and what isn’t working. Set boundaries and remember that business stuff stays at work, and personal stuff stays at home. Both of you need to be ok with parting ways on a professional basis if the need arises. If you both end up being partners, be sure to get all the legal paperwork ironed out so everyone’s clear on what it all means.
Have Other Interests Besides the Business
This one may be hard for entrepreneurs, because typically their new business becomes a huge part of who they are. But imagine if all your spouse ever talked about was her new best friend and all the stuff her best friend did all day. Wouldn’t it get tedious? Take up a hobby, or read an interesting book, or do something else that helps you be a well-rounded person. Don’t just talk about your business—talk about life, talk about your spouse, and maybe even go out with friends and get to know a wider circle of people. It will expand your horizons and help you be interesting to you and your spouse, and give you both a breather from all the business talk.
Figure Out the Finances
Probably one of the biggest stresses when you combine a marriage and a start-up business is money. Start-ups take money to get off the ground, then they tend to suck up money for a while. It’s important to sit down with your spouse and talk about the details of money. Start by setting up separate accounts so business doesn’t mix with personal. Talk to an accountant for advice as well. Come to an agreement with how much you will invest in the business, how you will raise capital, how it will be spend, and how you will be paid. Definitely talk about what to do with profits, and also what to do if the business fails. How long will you let the business carry on until calling it quits? Your spouse should have a say in it, too. Set a plan now to avoid big stress and arguments later. Be sure to check in regularly about finances.
We really think that it’s possible to achieve our entrepreneurial dreams without wrecking up our marriages. In fact, if we are generous, loving and always mindful that our relationship must remain top priority, we can truly enjoy a great marriage with our spouse.
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Written by: Malini Bhatia, Founder & CEO at Marriage.com