The struggles and stresses of entrepreneurs devoted to launching a fledgling tech startup are commonly understood:
- Sleepless nights of transforming ideas into business plans
- Building financial spreadsheets
- Facing rejection by potential investors
- Endless business and financial plan revisions
- Scrimping and saving to cover your personal investment
- Seeking ways to retain your income-producing job while pursuing your dreams after hours
But what do the stressors place on that entrepreneur’s relationship with their significant other? And at what toll?
With news of the high-profile divorces of billionaire businessmen and entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is it even possible to be a highly successful entrepreneur while also maintaining a healthy, happy relationship at home? It is! Here are three ways to ensure your entrepreneur relationship can withstand and even thrive during the birth of a tech startup.
Make Your Partner Your First Investor
Before you wine and dine any potential VC investors and present them with a company valuation, pitch the person who you ultimately want support and full buy-in from first: your significant other.
Building a company from the ground up can be a daunting task that will require many hours away from your family. Your very first investor should be the person who will now have to invest even more of his or her time into caring for your family in your absence.
When Peter Ord decided to leave his job of 14 years to launch GuideCX, he already had buy-in from his wife, Megan, because she was the first person he pitched his business concept to. “Entrepreneurs and their partners need to know what they’re getting into when starting their company, the toll that it takes,” said Megan, who was recently featured as a guest at StartFEST discussing the topic during a panel titled “You Don’t Have to Choose Between a Successful Business and a Successful Relationship.”
Encourage Equal Emotional Ownership
For budding entrepreneurs, the phrase “don’t bring work home” simply doesn’t apply. In fact, Megan jokes that GuideCX actually became their fifth child when they were first launching the company. And, just like raising a new baby, there will be times of no sleep, frustration, anger, and even tantrums. If your significant other is equally emotionally invested in your startup, you can more easily commiserate and problem-solve together.
“I have a lot of respect for other entrepreneurs and what they go through,” Megan said. “I’ve always looked up to Peter and respected him in his line of work. When he first brought me the idea [for GuideCX], I saw its usefulness and helped him design the concept and give input.”
Tim Chan, founder of Canada-based Coracle Marketing, recently praised his wife for her support as he was establishing his agency. “No work is perfect. Miscommunication happens. Delays happen. Disappointment happens. It’s during those times that I need someone to vent to – someone to hear my side of the story,” he said. “My wife lets me vent to her. And she is genuinely interested in what happened and how I feel. Most times, just having Olive listen to me vent helps me to calm down and see things in perspective.”
Determine Your Risk Limit
Not everyone can create a unicorn tech startup. In fact, about 90 percent of all startups fail. When embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, thresholds of risk tolerance should be established.
“Before you can increase your risk tolerance, you need to get an idea of your current relationship with risk,” reports Timothy Sykes in his Entrepreneur article. “Understanding of your capacity to stomach risk will allow you increase your tolerance gradually, rather than challenging yourself too much at once and panicking.”
Once you’ve determined your level of risk, you and your significant other can better plan an emergency exit strategy should it be needed.
Before you talk yourself out of becoming an entrepreneur for fear of jeopardizing your relationship with your significant other, just remember you can have the very best of both worlds. Make your partner your first investor, establish equal emotional investment, and clearly define your risk tolerance.
To read more stories like this, Megan and Peter aren’t the only ones!
To read about Peter’s interview at StartFEST, click here.
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