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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 November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

    More About Continuous Learning

    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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