So you want to start your own small business.
It’s going to be a long road fraught with peril. You’ll get knocked down by failures, stand up – learn – and keep moving. Your business will ask everything of you, and then it’ll ask for more.
You have what it takes. You’re an entrepreneur – eternally optimistic and relentlessly ambitious.
But it’s not JUST about you. Your significant other can either be the rocket fuel for your success or the sucking mud that wraps around your feet as you attempt to stagger forward. It helps if your spouse is an entrepreneur themselves, but few of us have that luxury.
As The Shrink for Entrepreneurs, I spend a good portion of my time discussing the intersection of business and home life. Here’s what to look for in a relationship that’s going to help – rather than hinder – your entrepreneurial ambitions…
What to look for in the ideal entrepreneurial partner:
1. Risk Tolerance
Entrepreneurship isn’t supposed to be easy. The only consistent thing we can correlate with ALL super successful business owners is a track record of failure and a relentless unwillingness to give up. You have to fail until you succeed.
Does your spouse know about this? The last thing you want, when starting a new business, is the misguided expectation from your significant other that “this has to work”. Are they ready for you to hit the learning curve? Will they allow you the freedom to persevere?
2. Understanding Failure
As the saying goes: There is no such thing as failure – there is only feedback. Risk tolerance is important because running a business IS risky. That’s not a bad thing though – that’s the point.
Your spouse needs to understand that business risk is the crucible in which your capabilities as an entrepreneur are forged. Not everything is going to work out. It’s going to take twice as long as you thought – and probably be twice as expensive. You’re going to experience ENORMOUS
lows as well as enormous highs.
But it’s all just feedback.
3. Grokking the Entrepreneurial Work-cycle
Some people have a nine to five cycle and work well all day, then set aside their concerns and come home to veg out. Not entrepreneurs.
The truth about the entrepreneurial work cycle is that there is no cycle. You’re going to be thinking about work all the time. At all hours. You’re going to wake up in the night with ideas.
You’re eyes are going to gloss over at dinner when you remember something you have to do tomorrow.
This is totally normal, but the chances are your spouse won’t get it. Most jobs don’t prepare us for the mental intensity of being self employed and if they can’t relate, they may get frustrated by the fact that your mind never switches off work.
Perhaps more than anything else, the spouse of an entrepreneur needs to keep their eye on the potential upside. Cynics and pessimists do not marry well with an entrepreneur.
When you decide to start a business, you’re basically saying “I’m going to – through sheer force of will and tenacity – do something that is almost statistically impossible!”
Good on you. You’ve got the optimism required to succeed. Does your partner? He or she will need to develop it, or at least contain their skepticism until you get some points on the board.
Ultimately, people can change.
Don’t worry too much if you’re not checking ALL these boxes with your partner. This article is designed more than anything, to get the conversation started. Even if your spouse struggles with these points now, begin that conversation.
Just the intention to TRY – to strive to be more optimistic for example – will take you a long way.
Remember, your business is going to force you to grow as a human. So expect it to indirectly make them grow too. It won’t always be easy, but in the end you’ll level up entirely and become the entrepreneurial power couple you were meant to be.
Peter Shallard calls himself “The Shrink for Entrepreneurs”
As a renowned business psychology expert and psychotherapist gone renegade, Peter works with all types of entrepreneurs around the globe as they strive to reach greater goals of wealth, freedom and social impact. Peter’s schtick is simple: The psychology of an entrepreneur dictates the bottom line result of their business. Peter works his magic with business owners and their organizations at that sweet spot —where deep, meaningful psychology and hardcore business strategy intersect.
Peter’s Guide Seek & Destroy. How to identify entrepreneurial obstacles and overcome them is available from his website: petershallard.com