“Slide into bed with an entrepreneur, and you wind up cuddling with his business.” – Meg Cadoux Hirshberg
It's no secret that running a business can get in the way of managing a relationship. Finding balance can seem daunting at times. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners don't really think about how the long days and singular focus of running a fledgling business can affect their romantic partners. Many couples go through hard times, but startup businesses differ from other relationship stressors in that the business becomes a third entity in the relationship, taking up time, resources, and attention that might otherwise go to a girlfriend or spouse.
However, combining small business life with a successful relationship and finding balance doesn't have to be impossible. Many advice books, such as Hirshberg's “For Better or For Work,” or entrepreneur Brad Feld and wife Amy Batchelor's “Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship,” provide guidelines on how to manage the demands of a business and a relationship simultaneously.
The majority of these guidelines come down to simple time management: if you want your relationship to work, you need to make choices that let you spend quality time with your significant other, even during the throes of a startup company.
My husband and I are both entrepreneurs, so it helps that we both ‘get’ each other and we understand what is entailed in the life of a business owner. We also love the freedom, that having a business gives us. We both love to travel and explore exotic places, so we plan trips on our own schedule. He is in love with paddle surfing and I am into the flying trapeze, so we are blessed to be able to work our schedules around our passions.
We have also learned some strategies that help our relationship flourish, because just like a business, a marriage needs attention, nurturing and time to grow. It's about finding balance.
Here are a few tips to help keep you on track:
1. Delegate and automate
Do everything you can to free up time in your home and in your business. Hire a house cleaner to give you and your partner shared time away from chores is one way of finding balance. When we come home to a clean home, we are able to spend more time enjoying one another’s company. Hire assistants to take care of the administrative and financial areas of your business so you can focus on generating and developing ideas. If you can't afford assistants, hire interns and train them well. The more you delegate, the more time you have to spend on both your business and your personal relationships.
2. Finding balance: Learn how to timeblock
You need time for your business, and you need time for your relationship – and you need to keep the two separate and timeblocked. Learn a project management system and use it to manage tasks and decisions efficiently. A sign of a good leader is to never start your workday without a plan, and never let procrastination get in the way of action. Check out www.InteractiveLifeCoach.com to keep your goals on track and become relentless with your time. As a business owner, you have the luxury to schedule your day, but if you have not planned it well, it can get away from you quickly.
Don't forget that even fast-paced entrepreneurs lose some of their steam after an 8-hour workday; small business magazine Inc. reiterates the importance of only working 40 hours every week. After 40 hours, your task quality and decision-making capacities reduce significantly. It's much better to go home in the evening, enjoy dinner with your partner, relax and charge your biological batteries for the next day.
3. Talk about other things besides your business!
I get very passionate about my business. As a small business coach I could talk about it 24/7! Let me tell you, this is not healthy for a relationship. Just as you need to talk about other things than finances and your children when you are out with your partner, let go of your work when you two are spending fun time together. Share other passions that you both enjoy that will not only help each of you clear your minds, but also bring you closer together.
4. Remember that you and your partner are a team
Don't ever make it “your business vs. your partner.” You and your partner are a team. You are supporting each other while you work on your business and your partner builds something unique of his or her own. (If your partner doesn't have anything interesting and consuming in his or her own life, you both need to talk about changing this situation. Partnerships work when people are equal – you can't have one partner playing the role of “startup founder” and the other playing the role of “coffee drudge to pay the bills.”)
Running a business is creative and exciting and there are new things happening on a regular basis. This is what I love about business! If you can find a way to share this passion, your partner will feel more part of your adventure.
You are also both supporting the invisible thing that connects you both: the relationship itself. That means you can't ignore basic relationship care, like forgetting birthdays or supporting one another with time and care. You and your partner are working together for the success of you both. Once you understand how to create that sense of teamwork, your relationship has a high likelihood of remaining strong and even growing during the early startup years.
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Voice for Business Success
Allison Maslan, CEO of Pinnacle Global Network, The World Leader in Scaling Businesses. She is the Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of, Scale or Fail, which is endorsed by Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank. Allison’s built 10 successful companies starting out at age 19. Her client list has included Ben & Jerry’s, Supercuts, Charlotte Russe, and Allstate.
Now she and her team of CEO Mentors pay it forward by helping business owners scale their companies, fast-track their success and create a more meaningful life. The Pinnacle Global Network, her private mentoring and mastermind enterprise has guided thousands of business owners over the past 10 years. Allison’s been featured in Inc., Success, Fortune, Fast Company and Forbes Magazines, is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and a featured expert on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox across the US. Allison has also hosted her own podcast, The Scale or Fail Show, since 2011.