How to Support your Spouse if he/she is an Entrepreneur

Early in my career, everything seemed to be so simple. I interviewed for a job and got it. I worked hard, got a raise. Then I wanted something else, something different — interviewed for a different job at a different company, and got it again. I worked hard, got a raise.
This happened several times.

Until I realized that changing job and/or company once again is not the change I wanted.
I wanted something else. Something very different.

In the end, I decided to quit being employed and founded my first company.

It happened several years ago, right after the birth of my first son.
Later, I left my company and founded another one.
I gave birth to two more children.

Today, juggling three little children, I find becoming an entrepreneur to be one of my best ever decisions I’ve made. However, this could not be this way without my husband and his unconditional support.

What does his support mean? For me, everything.

A friend of ours, working in the finance sector for many years, decided to quit and start working as an entrepreneur recently. You can imagine: he had a life with a good salary getting paid the 5th of every month. He worked a lot, worked hard, but he had “free” weekends with family. When he was home, he was really home — home and office were separate.

Then he made the big step and quit his “safe” job and took the roller-coaster of entrepreneurship.

Now, he has to work on his own business. On his own products and services. His home is his new office.

He had a supporting wife and everything would be fine.

But his wife considers him “being home” now. Someone who can take care of the children. Someone who can go to the grocery. Someone who can help with the chores.
Someone who can support her.
It’s very sad to see how their life became upside down in just a few weeks.
They had made this decision together, but apparently the wife didn’t realize what this mean — until it happened.

I have seen several similar stories. Some ended with going back to the “safe” employment. Some even ended with divorce. One thing is sure: you cannot be successful in entrepreneurship without the strong support of your spouse and family.

I am truly blessed with having a supporting husband (and family). As he’s also an entrepreneur, leading his own business, we both learned how to give the maximum support to each other.
If you have a wife, husband, partner, family member who decided to be an entrepreneur, here is my list how you can support him/her to success:

  • Understand the goals and priorities — What your spouse needs in this situation is understanding. Maybe you work in an entirely different industry and don’t know every small detail of his/her job, but it is vital to understand the main goals and priorities. And when I say “understand”, I really mean this. Listen to him/her, ask and discuss.
  • Respect the goals and priorities — Once understood, the goals and priorities have to be respected, too. Maybe you don’t agree with them. But if it’s important to your spouse, please support him/her with respect.
    Like in the case of my own husband. A couple of years ago, after the birth of our first son, he decided to go for a second diploma. He applied to the Budapest University of Economics and started his first semester when our son was still a baby and we had our new company just founded. I thought the timing was not good at all, but he wanted these studies because he believed they would help his career later.
    Later, he decided to quit the studies when realized how much burden it was, but it was his decision at that time.
  • Make a plan together — The best is if you make a plan together. What and how has to be done to succeed? What is needed from you? How can you make quiet “working hours” in your home? When can this happen? What would you do meanwhile?
    Where your spouse will work? Do you have a home office? Or just a quiet corner in the living room? Or can you reorganize one of the rooms to accommodate his/her desk?
    What is his/her working style? What he/she needs not to be disturbed? Quiet? A headphone with music?
    Does he/she need to travel? What is the plan for those days?
    Discuss these questions (and many others!) and make a plan which is respected by both of you.
    In our case, I am the one who travels more. When working from home, most of the logistics around the kids are mine, but while traveling these have to be done by my husband. While he still doesn’t like it, he always tries to get the most of it. I still have to “prepare” the household for the travel days and have to organize as much as possible in advance (shopping, cleaning lady, babysitter, school and afternoon schedules, etc.), but my husband does an excellent job of making it fun with the kids while I’m abroad. You name it: they eat pizza and pancakes, watch movies and plays computer games together, etc. — This is all part of our life, planned.
  • Know and respect the new lifestyle and boundaries — Being an entrepreneur needs focus and dedication. You can help your spouse the most by making this possible. This is a new lifestyle for him/her as well. Be patient and respect the new way of life.
    For example, if you have a home office like I do, you and your spouse can agree that the closed door means “Don’t disturb.” And then, you have to support this, no exception other than a real emergency. This rule works very well in my family, even my kids know what the closed door means. (Ok, sometimes they go outside and wave through the window to my home office but it’s ok 😉 )
  • Help him/her to stay on track — It’s so easy to get distracted. We entrepreneurs have to do so many things, sometimes it’s easy to lose the focus. You can help your wife, husband, partner, family member by asking about the progress he/she is making, about the goals and priorities regularly. But be careful, don’t overdo this, and don’t make him/her feel you are his/her new boss…

Is your wife, husband, partner, family member is an entrepreneur? — Share in the comments how you support him/her.
Or, if you are an entrepreneur, let me know how your spouse and other family members support you.

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