Today’s post is written by none other than, Skye Bickett, my lovely wife, best friend, and mother of our son, Alexander. I asked her if she would write a post geared towards spouses who are supporting and assisting the other spouse down the road of self employment. She jumped at the opportunity and had some GREAT points to make. Enjoy!
Being the spouse of an entrepreneur is a journey unto itself. You will have to work just as hard as your spouse to make the dream of owning a business a reality for him. There will be times when one or both of you are annoyed at the other and even times when you realize you were wrong and become annoyed at yourself (which, incidentally, still directs anger toward the other person). There will be fights and there will be misunderstandings. There may be finger pointing and there may be doubt. Rest assured, though, that there are steps the two of can take to make the transition easier.
Communication, preparation, and understanding are three of the most important things that anyone can do to make entrepreneurship an easier and more successful journey. These ideals shouldn’t be new to you, especially if you’re married. A successful marriage or friendship is based on these and they are truly needed to keep things peaceful at work, at home, and anywhere else.
Communication is one of the biggest items to work on and everyone has a different way of communicating. Some only want to listen, some just want to talk, others hear what they want, and some make up conversations that never happened. When your spouse is starting a business the two of you must talk to one another and share your concerns, give encouragement, be open to suggestions or thoughts, and be nice (Yes, I did have to specify that. Yelling, being rude, or being condescending or not a part of good communication). If you are starting to feel neglected because your spouse is working on his business at night and on weekends while holding down a full-time job, talk to him about it. If you feel that you aren’t able to devote enough time to opening your business because your spouse is constantly making plans, talk to her about it. There is a middle ground, but you’ll never find it, and resentment will form, if you don’t communicate with one another.
Preparation is another standard part of any journey, but most people don’t take it into consideration. You have to prepare for what will happen as your spouse’s business is starting. Will you see each other less? Probably. Will you have less income at the start of the business? Usually. Will there be pitfalls you didn’t even see coming? Most definitely. You can’t plan for everything, but you can prepare for issues that you know will arise and talk about what you’ll do when unexpected things hit you. What happens if a year into opening his business is no better off than when it started? Should your spouse find additional sources of income, such as a contracting job? Should you give up being a stay at home mom and get a job? Even if you think the business will jump off the ground it’s best to prepare for a struggle. If there isn’t a struggle with the business then you can do a happy dance (I do these at work and think everyone should incorporate them.). If there is a struggle then you’re prepared for what lies ahead. If you don’t prepare things can go downhill – fast. If things go great then you’re all set. If things fall apart, though, it will be a lot harder for you and your spouse to calmly discuss what needs to be done.
Understanding is the last piece of the puzzle. As the entrepreneur you have to realize that this journey is just as hard for your spouse as it is for you. They have just as much riding on the success of your business as you do. As the spouse you have to understand that starting a business is a long and arduous process that has your spouse’s pride wrapped inside. Be understanding of what each of you is going through and what both of you have to sacrifice to make the business a reality.
All of these principles need to be used in conjunction with one another to work properly. It will make the transition of self-employment for your spouse a lot easier. It will keep your marriage strong. Unless your spouse has some hare-brained idea that you don’t agree with at all or think will definitely not work, then support them. Keep in mind, though, that you need to be understanding of his feelings on the topic and that you need to communicate your feelings about the idea without sounding judgmental or condescending. You only have one life and should live it for the purpose God intended. If your spouse thinks that’s starting his own business then see where it goes. If it’s you being a stay at home mom or starting your own business then do it…just not at the same time as your spouse.
Please feel free to connect with Skye on her blog, Carnie Poet.