Okay so entrepreneurship is tough; for some strange reason, there's this misconception that it's the easy way out. Like when we start this journey, we think "why work for someone else when I could just work for myself". You read that right - I said "I could just work for myself" ... it's the word "just" that implies this method of self employment is simple and freeing, so everyone should and can do it. As an entrepreneur and the spouse of one, I can wholeheartedly tell you - that is B.S.
As we discussed in Part I of this series, there are many untold truths to starting your own business, and in this article, we will discuss the untapped territory of being an entrepreneur in a relationship. As mentioned, my husband and I both own businesses - Career Kay llc and Gamersway Gaming Center - so, we understand the obstacles one may face as they balance marriage, self-employment and parenting.
Untold Truth #1: Although it's your Business, all decisions are joint - When you decide to get married you are now legally bind to another human. Which means, if that human started their business during your marriage and the business is sued or fails, your assets (i.e. the home you live in) may be in danger. Likewise, if this human wishes to get a business loan, you need to discuss this choice because this is now debt you both will be responsible for. Despite the fact that your human's name is the only one on the business entity, you may still be liable in the event things go south, as their legal partner for life. Therefore, when it comes to making decisions, you have a right to be included.
Untold Truth #2: You have to find comfort in discussing finances - Fun fact, finances are the second highest cause of divorce in America. People would rather divorce over money than addiction. Why? Because people are unable to communicate about spending habits, budgeting and agree to common ground. An article from Today.com reads "Differences in how we spend or save money can also be incredibly difficult to navigate in a marriage. One person wants to shop at TJ Maxx, the other, at Bergdorf Goodman." If you and your spouse are going to successfully run your businesses, you have to be open and willing to discuss cash flow in your home - from bills, to budgeting, profit and loss. This also means you must be open to feedback and compromise.
Below are a few quick budgeting tips to help you and your spouse sort through the struggle:
1. Decide who is better at managing the money and allow this person to take the lead. Create a joint account for household bills and deposit between 0.25 - 0.5 of each person's earnings into this account. Each month, the Cash Leader should pay each bill and track the expenses for trends. Review this data with one another each month, or at the very least, each quarter.
2. Set time on the calendar biweekly to review profit vs loss together from your businesses. Use platforms like Quickbooks, Shoeboxed, TripLog, or Concur for easy management.
3. Plan fun into your budget, so there is still time to be spouses. As you get busier and wrapped up in the normal hustle lifestyle it is super easy to neglect your relationship which can (and will) cause issues down the line. When budgeting, make sure to include space for date night, beauty and/or whatever you deem necessary to keep the spark lit.
Untold Truth #3: If you don't know how to compromise, you will learn - Your business is your baby - you had this idea and now it's coming to life... what a time to be alive! Watching something move from a small thought that kept you up at night to a revenue producing company is fascinating and almost unbelievable. So, when someone - even the person closest to you - says something negative about it you get a bit defensive. This is natural and expected. Here's the thing. Your spouse isn't trying to tear down what you created. In fact, if you picked the right spouse, they want to see it flourish and their constructive criticism only has the intent to show you things you didn't see. Just as in other times, like when they suggested a different shirt so your love handles weren't poking out, or chose a different restaurant because they knew you wouldn't like anything on the menu. They may not agree with everything you say or do with your business because they see something you don't - instead of looking at them as the enemy, listen to their feedback. Seek to understand, not to put up your shield.
Untold Truth #4: You may need to schedule sexy time - We are going to get a little candid for a moment. Before your life went into hyperdrive you and your spouse were probably humping like rabbits. The attraction was through the roof, any time was "go" time and there weren't many other interruptions to deter from you just enjoying each other's company. That is the beauty of dating. Now that you are rooted with a home, jobs, businesses and perhaps children, "go" time is more like "no" time. Whenever you are alone, it seems more plausible to catch up on rest or turn the TV from Nickelodeon to A&E now that the kiddos are asleep. As Tia Mowry recently emphasized, when schedules get hectic, sex may need to be added to your calendar to keep your romance alive.
At first glance, you may thinking "no ma'am" but hear me out. Have you ever had a day when you were so busy you forgot to eat? You got up early, had your morning cup of joe, dropped the kids off, met with a client or two and ran a few errands for the day. By the time you grabbed the kids from school, cheered them on at soccer practice, and picked up Chick-fil-a for dinner, you realized halfway through your waffle fries this is your first solid bite all day. This is no different... when spouses get wrapped up in maintaining their responsibilities, it's perfectly normal for a few weeks (ahem or a month) to pass by without a little bumping and grinding to take place. To prevent this frustration from happening again, make a plan so the connection remains active. Plus whatever you do in your relationship to maintain the spice is your business; don't feel ashamed or pressured based on your decision.
Untold Truth #5: You may accel at different rates - You and your spouse's businesses may rise and fall at different rates. Regardless of your industry, it is rare that you will see your businesses take the same progression. Why does this matter? You'll need to learn how to support and uplift your partner, even if your on a downward slope and are facing a mountain of challenges. Recognize collaborative wins, and individual losses. At the end of the day, you are a team and there is no competition between you. If you win, they win (and vice versa).
Remember your relationship is key and it is the foundation of everything else you've built up until this point. Although navigating self-employment, parenting and just life's challenges are exhausting, they are moments that force us to grow and determine the legacy we will leave. Some days will be rocky, which is why you hear "marriage isn't easy", but you can make it better through educating yourself, practicing communication and choosing your relationship one day at a time.