The one constant you can count on in life is change. Change in your business and change in your marriage and interpersonal relationships. And because of this fact, every business woman, whether she is an entrepreneur or a corporate worker, must ask themselves if their relationship can survive the changes of their business – and can their business survive the changes in their marriage? Are your financial, emotional and spiritual wants and needs similar enough to withstand the unpredictability entrepreneurship and a fast-paced corporate career will bring into your lives?
This week we will address the specific skills needed to weather the changes entrepreneur work will bring. (The next issue we will discuss the specific skills needed to weather a corporate career.) Being an entrepreneur is not just about being your own boss – it represents who you are as an individual. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers who desire to create their own path in life rather than follow the path someone else has paved. Sure, entrepreneurship represents a business path; however your entrepreneurial success and/or struggles impact not only your business but your entire life – and your marriage. Unlike a traditional job where you work for someone else, an entrepreneur cannot always separate their business from their other relationships – especially their marriage. Why? Because entrepreneurs take their business “personally” because their work is something they have created and own.
This constant change will have a very strong impact on your financial, emotional and spiritual life – and that of your spouses’. Your financial situation might take a roller coaster ride – with a lot of money coming in at times and no money coming in at other times – and many times you will be unable to predict this financial feast and/or famine. You might need to take on some debt for a while before your business ever turns a profit. Are you comfortable with this financial arrangement? And just as importantly, is your spouse comfortable with this arrangement? You need to look at and discuss the financial ramifications of entrepreneurship with your spouse to make sure you can endure potential financial uncertainty together. Do NOT assume your spouse knows about this financial roller coaster ride. The one thing most people do not like in life is financial surprises.
Speak to any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you entrepreneurship requires more sweat equity than they ever imagined. Many spouses of entrepreneurs will tell you they sometimes feel their spouses’ business is a mistress – because of all the long hours and emotional commitment the business requires – leaving little or no time and/or emotional energy left for their relationship. Are you prepared for the long hours and emotional commitment it takes to make your business successful? Have you communicated to your spouse the amount of time, emotional energy and commitment your business will require to be successful? Is your spouse on board with this? Can your marriage withstand the long work hours and emotional commitment many businesses require – especially in the start-up phase (and often beyond)?
Are you a spiritual person? Is your spouse a spiritual person? Will your spiritual practices be impacted by your entrepreneurial work? Are you willing to close up shop during religious holidays if that is important to you – knowing as an entrepreneur you do not get paid for personal days, vacation days, religious observances, etc. It is imperative you and your spouse understand your spiritual beliefs and needs and discuss how your entrepreneurial lifestyle will impact this aspect of your lives and relationship.
There are no correct answers to the questions posed above. The answer to these questions is different for each marriage but it is essential you ask these questions. Ignore them at the peril of your marriage, your business – or both. The answers will give you a pretty good indicator as to whether your marriage will be able to survive whatever challenges your entrepreneurial lifestyle will present to you in the future.
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