My husband, a very wise and patient man, said to me the other night, “Being married to an entrepreneur is really hard.”
Having a business is a lot like having another baby, except your spouse or partner isn’t necessarily the other loving parent. For both the business owner and their spouse, it can be a challenging endeavor.
As one of my good friends, whose husband is an entrepreneur, said to me once, “I have to hold down the fort with a steady job and benefits, while he gets to run around pursuing his dream.”
For the entrepreneur, it can be a lot of hours, long nights, weekends, and a huge commitment while earning a fraction of what they might be worth in the business marketplace. This could last for years or months, until the business builds up to a point where the payback is significant.
The whole family feels the pressure of the build-up.
The truth is, it’s both the entrepreneur, and their spouse’s responsibility to participate in the decision to go into the business. And once the decision is made, it’s both of their responsibility to support each other through the lifecycle of the business.
Having been an entrepreneur for 15 years and a wife for almost 10, I’ve learned three main strategies that may help a married entrepreneur through this journey.
1. Seek and receive advice
In the beginning of our relationship, my husband will admit that he stayed fairly quiet about some of the mistakes he saw me making in my business. He cares for me and didn’t want to upset me. While that was certainly helpful for keeping peace in our home, in retrospect I wish he had shared some of that wisdom. He sees things differently than I do, which is very helpful when it comes to navigating all of the uncertainty and decision making that comes with running a business.
As business owners, let’s admit it, we can be pretty hard headed. It’s often what makes us great entrepreneurs. But actually accepting feedback and advice in a constructive way is one of the best ways to include your spouse in the decision making process.
Your spouse has a valuable perspective and input to contribute. They know you better than anybody. Remember, while the truth may be hard to hear sometimes, what they’re saying is typically from a place of love, care, and consideration. Ask yourself: “Is what they’re saying true?” and “What is the suggestion they’re offering?” Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity on certain topics. Difficult discussions can be daunting, but they often lead to greater connection, understanding, and ideas!
2. Your spouse doesn’t want to be a “Yes” person
The more successful you become, the less likely it is that the people around you are going to be brutally honest. The more success the business gains, the more surrounded by “yes people” you become.
This is dangerous territory for an entrepreneur!
However, your spouse doesn’t want to be just another “yes person”. They want you to be successful. However, they may be afraid to speak up if they have tried and been shot down in the past. Take a few minutes to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you have been open to their feedback.
Have you shut them down? Or have you listened with an open mind?
3. Your spouse is only one pillar in your support structure
At this stage in my business, I have investors and I have a board, but those are relationships that I built up over time as my entrepreneurial journey progressed. In the beginning, it was a small group of friends who also owned small businesses and understood my journey because they were living it as well. We met to exchange ideas, offer advice, cry on each other’s shoulders, and push each other over hurdles. I truly believe that our businesses were made stronger by the power of the group.
Your spouse has a lot on the line, just like you do. They have fears, just like you do. Sometimes it’s hard for them to keep those fears separate from the advice that they’re providing you. Therefore, it’s always helpful to have an unbiased 3rd party opinion, preferably someone who has walked in your shoes, to give you the ideas and emotional support that you can’t get from your spouse.
In a franchise like Little Nest Portraits, the owners often rely on each other for support with everything from systems and processes, to emotional support when the going gets rough. Not only have our franchisees found deep new friendships, they’ve learned valuable ways to push their businesses forward from women who have stood where they stand now.
If you are not part of an organization like a franchise, and don’t have other entrepreneurial friends, I urge you to seek out a group of like-minded souls either in person or online. One of the best ways to get started is through a local business group where you can meet other people who are in similar positions and learn from each other.
Your relationships are one of your greatest strengths! And your spouse or partner is the strongest of them all. Invite them into the conversation. Respect their advice & perspective. And know when you need to give them some breathing room and seek out other people to help you push forward.
Seeking more entrepreneurial support?
If you have an interest in owning your own business and being part of an amazing community of like-minded women, Little Nest Portraits would love to speak with you. Learn more about Little Nest franchise opportunities here.