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5 Topics To Address When Talking With Your Partner About Starting A Business

5 Topics To Address When Talking With Your Partner About Starting A Business

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    One of the most important steps (if not the most important one) you can take when starting a business is to talk with your partner/spouse before you embark on your adventure. It’s absolutely crucial to have your partner with you on the same page when you start a business. Without their support and “buy-in,” in the long run you’ll end up sacrificing your success, your relationship, or both. Save your marriage and your business by talking to your partner and coming to agreement about these issues.

    Before heading into any conversation, make sure you have your “ducks in a row.” Know how to answer the questions your partner (from this point forward, for ease of use throughout this article, I’ll be using “partner” to refer to your partner in life, which may include a girlfriend/boyfriend or a spouse, and “s/he” to refer to “she/he”) may have. Do your homework and have a plan prepared so your partner can see that you’re serious and know what you’re talking about, but keep your plan flexible enough that your partner can have some input. And remember, these conversations may not be simple, easy, or fast, so set aside enough time to talk to your partner, share your thoughts and feelings, and give your partner a chance to absorb this new information. Be patient, loving, and sincere, and let him/her take the time s/he needs.

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    Money

    Money is the number one reason why people get divorced. That’s why it’s critical that your discussion with your partner includes money. As I suggested in last week’s post, when you first start your business, you’ll want to either save up enough money for you and your family to live on for at least six months or keep your current job and start your business part-time until you can afford to make the transition to full-time. Talk to your partner about your plan and let him/her know that you don’t want to put your family’s security at risk. Your partner may want you to save up more than six months’ worth of living expenses, so keep an open mind as you go into this conversation.

    A great step to take when you’re talking to your partner about money is to sit down together and figure out where you are financially. Dave Ramsey, author of “The Total Money Makeover” suggests that if you want to create financial stability in your life and get out of debt, you should list out all your debts, “get right” with your creditors, save up a $1,000 emergency fund, then start paying off your debts, starting with the smallest ones. If you’re heavily in debt, I highly recommend reading Dave’s book and implementing his strategies to get your financial life straightened out before you start any business. However, remember that you can use a part-time venture to help you pay off your debts. There are several business models that are fairly easy and inexpensive to start and, when implemented properly, can result in enough income to pay down (or off) your debts, and then bring in enough to let you transition into a full-time entrepreneurial life.

    Once you and your partner have figured out where you are financially, discuss the expenses you foresee with your potential business. Talk about the experts you want to hire and the various startup costs you anticipate, and why they’re important to your success. You may want to bring in a business consultant or advisor to talk with you and your partner to help you account for all the possible expenses. I frequently work with couples who want to find a business model that’s appropriate for their financial situation. In some cases, we can jump straight into a business that has higher startup expenses, but in other situations, we design a “leapfrogging” approach that lets them start a lower-risk, lower startup cost venture that brings in enough to fund a more complex business model.

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    You’ll also want to talk with your partner about how long you think it will take before your business is profitable. Many partners hear “I want to start a business” and start to fear that they’re about to head down a road where their partner is throwing money at a business that may never succeed. Remember that your partner may experience this kind of fear and it doesn’t necessarily represent a lack of support as fear and worry about the future.

    The Future

    Talking about the future is important because you want your partner to understand what you hope this business will do for you and your family. You’ll want to talk about what kind of life the two of you want to have together. What are your goals and what is your shared vision for your life together? What do you think the business will do for your family and what will you teach your children (or future children) by having this business? People often fear that the new business will absorb all the time and energy from their partner. Again, this is something to address with care, love, and reassurance.

    The business models I work with tend to require a lot of time in the initial stages, during the startup phase. When you’re building a company and a brand and increase awareness of that brand, you may spend a lot of time working on that company, but as I’ve mentioned in my other articles, most of these business models eventually result in a lot more free time. Knowing that this kind of sacrifice will only happen at the beginning can go a long way toward getting your partner’s support, as will your reassurances that you won’t neglect your family.

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    You’ll also want to talk with your partner about some “what if” scenarios. I advocate positive thinking and believing so strongly in your business idea that you simply don’t allow for the possibility of failure. However, your partner may not see it quite the same way, and realistically, all business don’t succeed. So discuss some “what if everything doesn’t go according to plan” scenarios with your partner and talk about what you’re going to do to mitigate the risk of failure — at what point will you seek  help to make your business work?

    Priorities

    When you start a business, your partner may worry that your business is your top priority. Of course most people want to be important to their partners, in fact they want to be number one!  By talking to your partner with patience, sensitivity, and love, and asking for his/her input, and by including him/her in your plans, you’re already showing your partner how important s/he is to you. But you’ll have to go one step further and let your partner know where your priorities lie.

    You must be willing to set aside the work and give your partner the love and attention s/he needs. That means paying attention to what your partner is telling you and planning ahead. So find out what your partner wants and expects from you and plan ahead to provide that.

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    An example from my own marriage is that when I first started my company, I was working over ten hours a day, seven days a week. I love what I do, and I can get really involved in my work, so I didn’t realize how hard I was working. I only worked that much for a couple of weeks before my husband mentioned it to me and asked when we’d get to spend some time together. Suddenly I realized that, even for a brief time, I’d put a higher priority on my work than on my marriage, and quickly corrected my course. I decided to take every Sunday off and to quit working at a “reasonable” hour (being an hour that we agreed on together), and spend more time with my husband. But a conversation with him before I started would have prevented this from happening at all.

    Risk

    Your partner will most likely be concerned about risk. There are a lot of types of risk, but I think the two people fear the most are personal risk (the emotional consequences of failure) and financial risk. Your partner won’t want you to be crushed if you don’t succeed, so you’ll want to talk about those “what if” scenarios I mentioned earlier. Remember that you and your partner may have different tolerances for risk, so take time to find out how your partner feels about risk and what s/he can handle. Talk about how you’re mitigating and minimizing your risk  and show him/her that you’re planning ahead and really doing your homework. Your partner will feel safer if you’ve considered the possibilities and accounted for what could go wrong.

    How Your Business Will Work

    It’s important that your partner knows that when you run a business, there are activities that seem like they’re not bringing in any income. Tasks like accounting, social networking, checking and replying to e-mails, updating your web site, and other tasks that aren’t your actual “job” may seem to your partner like work you don’t have to do. A friend of mine joked once about the time I spent on social networking sites, thinking I was just having fun all day long. Once I explained that social networking is an activity that keeps me close to my clients and allows me to get to know them as individuals so I can serve them better, she began understand that this is an integral part of my business. Explain to your partner that you’ll do tasks that may seem silly or insignificant, but there’s a reason for them, and be willing to explain what you’re doing and why if and when s/he asks.

    Ultimately, you’ll probably want to have a lot of other conversations with your partner about business, but these are the top five issues I see the most when I work with new entrepreneurs and their partners. The most important things to keep in mind when you talk to your partner are patience, love, sincerity, and understanding. Remember that your partner may initially respond with fear and concern, and don’t get frustrated if s/he doesn’t agree with your plans initially. Just take your time, stick with the conversation, and be flexible and open-minded. Above all, remember that you and your partner love each other. Start and end every business conversation with that thought in your mind and you won’t go wrong.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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