You’re not building your business to end up alone and regretful, like some Scrooge in a silent house somewhere.
But if you’re an entrepreneur you could be on the fast track to relationship regret.
The way you’re building your business, the passion and hustle and drive and chutzpah, might just scrooge you over. (See what I did there?)
I, myself, am extremely capable of slipping down that slope, slowly moving apart from my wife over time.
So let’s talk about how to nip this in the bud and stay close with the people who enrich our lives while we build our businesses.
This is a great conversation that’ll help anyone who’s driven professionally. If you know and care about someone like that, share this episode with them… could save them a world of pain down the road.
Probably the richest tip in this episode is this: we’ve got to get our spouse/partner on board with the vision of the business we’re building. Here’s 5 ways to do that:
1. Before you talk, visualize and empathize. In the guide to defining your audience I included a worksheet called the UX Empathy Map. It’ll seem silly, but it can be powerful to spend some time doing this to get into your partner’s skin a little, feel what they feel, discover objections they may have. Download the free guide if you haven’t and sketch out some ideas.
(Note: I literally did this about my wife and mom for mother’s day gifts. Extremely helpful. Also, the 3 story tips episode is good for this as well—who’s your main character? What’s their desire? What’s at stake? Etc.)
2. Have a big vision talk. Pitch your idea to your spouse/partner, but make it conversational, allowing her/him to contribute pieces to the story… what the future could look like, what work now may unlock for you two later, what kind of life you’d like to have together, what the difference between “just surviving” and thriving looks like for you two, etc.
3. Share your doubts. Don’t just keep it pie in the sky. No business is easy. There’ll be compromises, surprises and let downs. Similarly, no relationship is easy… if it’s worth fighting for, there’ll be fights. Include the darkness in your talks so you’re not completely deflated when the first tough thing happens.
4. Get logistical. The big vision is important, but equally so, the details and logistics of what your business looks like in real life is just as important.
Do you expect to be available at the same time each work day? Do you answer every phone call? What about dinner time email checks? Date nights? What’s your commitment to one another? What’s the reality of your work week going to look like? How much business travel each year? What does he/she expect from you? How could you delight him/her in your weekly availability?
5. Plan a monthly dinner. I picked this one up from Brad Feld… plan a monthly dinner where you and your spouse bring your calendars. Look back, what mistakes were made that could be learned from? Look forward, what’s coming up to prepare each other for? Have some wine, support one another, gush a little, use protection.
None of these bits by themselves will change much. What will count is your vision for your life with your partner PLUS your followthrough. That’s where these dinners can make such a huge impact… tightening the bonds over time as you trust each other’s support and commitment more and more.
Better that than what seems to be a typical story for most of us entrepreneurs: a slow and gradual slipping away from one another as we get wrapped up in our private, skull-sized kingdoms.
Mark Suster: I will invest more in YouTube | This Week In Startups — Some great stuff in this interview with a guy who gives good perspective on business, partnerships and more.
The Co-Founder Mythology — “So emotional is the topic that people often want to debate me based on the title before they’ve even heard my point of view.”
Grace And Lace — This is the company I was talking about seeing on Shark Tank.
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