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Is it possible to achieve business success and marital bliss at the same time? Yes: if both parties want to make it work. This article will help husbands and wives of entrepreneurs learn how to make entrepreneurship and marriage work – together.
Lessons Learned in Life
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no marriage counselor – not by a long shot. I don’t have any fancy degrees on my walls or professional counseling certificates under my belt.
What I do have is lived experience. I’m almost 20 years deep in this thing; marriage, that is. For the majority of those two decades, I’ve been working outside my 9-5, as a freelance marketer and graphic and web designer.
It’s only recently that I’ve started to transition from “freelancer” to “small business owner” – developing my own parent company with a subsidiary business.
Has it been rewarding? Yes!
Has it been all sunshine and rainbows? Hell no!
I’ve screwed up finances, I’ve mismanaged time, and as for work-life balance… Come on now.
None of that was intentional, of course. It’s just part of the process of entrepreneurship. Marriage and business can be challenging to balance. Impossible, though? Not at all.
Once my husband and I set some clear boundaries about both of our roles, the friction started dissolving and things began to flow.
Hopefully, this article will help you get things flowing smoothly. It’s a collection of life lessons that helped my husband and me combine our business aspirations with beautiful family life.
Life Lessons For the Entrepreneur
Know Your Role
Are you a full-time entrepreneur – one with no expectations of contributing to the household finances, or pulling weight with chores and family duties?
Or are you a part-time entrepreneur who knows that, outside their business building, they still have responsibilities in their home and marriage?
For example, during my budding entrepreneurial process, my husband and I both worked. Although I was still freelancing from time to time, these activities were pursued outside of my full-time job.
Now-however, after adding a set of twins to the mix, it makes sense for my husband to work and take care of household finances. In the meantime, I take care of the home. This way we both contribute and feel respected and useful.
It took a dedicated conversation to decide on this – and it was a joint decision. That way we knew what the other expected. We could therefore avoid resentment due to unmet expectations.
Respect The Household
I don’t mean this in the deferential sense, but in the loving sense. Don’t let your business lead you to neglect your duties to your marriage and home. You took them on for a reason, and you must continue to nurture them.
This means showing appreciation for your spouse, whichever way they support you.
Whether they are pulling extra weight financially, managing the logistics of a home, or simply stepping back and allowing you the space to pursue your dreams without micromanagement; they deserve acknowledgement (be specific!) and warm gratitude.
The first conversations are not the end of your communications about this. You don’t need to give detailed reports of your daily tasks to your spouse; but keep them posted on your progress. Share your joy and let them bask in it.
Equally, don’t let shame stop you from admitting when things are tough, or slower than you’d hoped. Your loved ones can encourage you, or even lend a helping hand during times of overwhelm. Remember, you’re helping nobody by leaving the door open to burnout.
Give it All You Got!
Go full throttle. Press your foot down on the gas pedal of your dream. Shift into top gear.
OK, automotive metaphors aside, you need to remember that your family is counting on you to be successful. Don’t let them down by allowing yourself to be kept down by fear, self-doubt or lack of confidence.
You can do it. You will do this!
Life Lessons For the Significant Other
Agree on Finances
Set boundaries on financial matters. Will your spouse contribute during the first stages of their business building, or will you be able to pay the full brunt of their business expenses? For how long?
Will business profits be used to help the home? What proportion? Remember, some of the profits need to go back into the business.
Tougher still, how much money is ‘enough’ before you must draw a line under this entrepreneurial venture? You can’t let your life savings drain away, but you must give this a fighting chance.
Will your spouse have their own spending money during the early days of this process? An ‘allowance’ seems childish to some, but it’s disheartening not to have any of your ‘own’ money, so try and work something out where the entrepreneur ends up with a bit of cash for personal necessities and luxuries.
Respect the Effort
Your spouse is putting in a lot of effort as they build a new business. It can be draining, even when things are going well. Especially if they are still taking care of the home and/or children at the same time.
Respect this effort and the intention behind it: your partner is trying to conquer a major challenge for the sake of the family’s future.
Be a Super Fan
Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader! You don’t need to break out the pom-poms (but, y’know, you do you) – just keep them encouraged while they build this new business.
This is a hell of a journey. There will be good times and bad times. That’s cool, but make sure to be a solid anchor of support and help your spouse stay confident.
Show your appreciation for their talent and efforts by praising specific things, or just telling them how great they are.
An entrepreneur will make mistakes. Mistakes that will affect the family.
We could be talking debt, neglected chores or a schedule that flew out the window into the distance.
Remember the bigger picture during these times of frustration. Practice forgiveness so your spouse doesn’t have to bear the burden of guilt, shame or resentment. This graceful attitude will lessen the chance of future mistakes!
Life Lessons For the Both of You
Yes, more of ‘em!
Everyone should know everyone else’s roles, expectations and contributions.
Boundaries also mean what can and cannot happen in the marriage while the new business is being built. The dos and don’ts. These can be small (“I won’t interrupt you while you work, even though you’re at home”) or big (“I won’t take on debt without a household discussion”).
Feed the Marriage
Sometimes, entrepreneurs get caught up in building their business. Spouses of entrepreneurs get caught up with their new, or altered, responsibilities. Both parties can forget to invest in their marriage.
Love is a verb: do loving things, and love will grow.
Set time outside of work and business to spend quality time together. And prioritize it – this isn’t expendable time that you can lightly disregard in favor of other responsibilities.
Go on dates. Travel (you don’t have to go far – check out a city 30 miles down the road). Have fun at home. Whatever you do, don’t let these activities be interrupted with business stuff. Learn the function of ‘Do Not Disturb’ filters on your phone!
Build Your Legacy
All this effort is going toward a better future: for each of you as individuals, for your marriage, for your family and your homes.
You are creating a legacy. The sacrifices you make now will ensure that it is marvelous. Step back and consider the big, beautiful picture.
The Wrap Up
Marriage and entrepreneurship can be combined. They can be combined well!
One of the most critical, and yet tragically unsung, roles in an entrepreneurial company is that of the founder’s partner or spouse.
Both parties can learn to work together in new and loving ways for the betterment of their unit.
By prioritizing boundaries, respect, grace and unity, they can both experience the joys that successful entrepreneurship can grant.
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