Maintaining a Relationship While Starting a Business

It’s hard enough for two people to keep the fire burning without having to worry about the challenges that come from being a solopreneur or an entrepreneur. Add in long hours, the life “disconnect”, tons of stress, financial challenges and other issues that come with being an entrepreneur and creating a stable relationship that endures can feel impossible and leave you feeling alone a lot of the time.

There is a thin line in which entrepreneurs can find themselves sitting on when trying to figure out how to include or maintain a relationship in their daily life as an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is a lifestyle, not just a job. It doesn’t get “turned off”, and it’s with you 365 days a year. Even when you have a team of effective and competent people working for or with you, you’re still the boss and the decision maker.

What about the “unbusiness” part of starting and maintaining your business, that is, the rest of your life, most importantly your relationship and your family? Entrepreneurship can sabotage the strongest relationship if you don’t communicate and put “rules” in place from the beginning. As entrepreneurs we often think that we can juggle the pieces without the people we care about being unduly affected.

As an entrepreneur, your true spouse is your business. Is this you?

You can’t just “disconnect” for any amount of uncertain time and you are in essence married to your work. Your work is your life and you are your work. The two cannot be separated.

At least that is what it feels like. In reality, it doesn’t have to be like that, but most entrepreneurs can step away or disconnect because they feel everything will fall apart if they are not there. There are no boundaries-business takes over your life.

Is your relationship adding to your stress or helping you to disconnect when you need to?

The success of any business depends on several factors: habits, beliefs, passion, flexibility, attitude and, believe it or not, your relationships. There’s an age-old adage that goes along the lines of, “You are only as good as the company you keep.” Human beings are hard-wired to be social, with the desire and need to connect with others. We thrive on healthy relationships; and yet, we often overlook the role of positive relationships in our success.

When we decide to start a business, often our partners are unprepared for what that means. How can they prepare when in reality, you don’t know either. You make happy plans at the beginning about the future, and the success and downplay the hard work, the sleepless nights and the complications that business will throw at you while you are trying to keep afloat in life.

That guilty feeling when you have to cancelagain.

As your business starts to gain a foothold and you have to cancel things you previously got to do so you can work, your spouse starts to feel neglected. You feel guilty, but continue to push on because this is what it takes-right? They will get it at some point and in the meantime, you need to keep the focus on your basis.

The guilt becomes a normal feeling, and it exhausts you. Eventually, you start taking the guilt out on your partner because they don’t support you like they used to. Does any of this sound familiar?

It doesn’t matter how hard you strive to be successful on your own; the people around you play an equally important role in getting you there. After all, they are the ones who remain your greatest advocates even when the going gets tough. Ideally, you want your partner to take an active role in your business so they can truly understand the “why”.

What role can your partner play in your business?

Their role may be small, but if there is a partnership where they can contribute and better understand the reality of what your daily life is (although there are steps to help you protect yourself from your business consuming you alive), you have a better chance of your partner not putting unrealistic expectations in front of you.

If your partner doesn’t understand the total upheaval, they will create challenges out of neglect. Bottom line, your spouse or partner cannot understand unless they are involved.

Simple decisions and conversations will make a difference.

Be as realistic as possible about how the business affects your mood, schedule, and finances. You may not know this at the beginning, but your business will sit at the back of your mind 24/7. Make an effort to have conversations about things OTHER than your business. Remember, other people still have a life.

Furthermore, given those expectations, you should see if there’s anything to help your partner deal with the challenges of having an entrepreneur as a partner. Frequent, focused communication will help to set the perfect foundation for having a more balanced relationship.

When the communication occurs frequently, it can expand your partner’s understanding and trust while you’re away or when things come up and you need to be understood.

Disconnect and be present in the moment.

Is this you?

You wake up with your phone. You go to bed with your phone. You wake up throughout the night and check your phone. You text, email, surf the internet, post to social media, check voicemails or you’re always making deals no matter where you are and what time of day it is. You never turn your devices off, you’re never without them and it seems like everyone has 24-hour access to you.

While you cannot make two things your number-one priority, you can adjust your priorities depending on the time. That means when you do have time to be together — at home, at dinner, etc. — stay present, and really listen and enjoy the time

This could mean turning off your work phone and email during meals or trying to steer the conversation away from work or to your significant other’s day. Being physically together won’t be quality time if you are mentally somewhere else.

It’s very easy to get caught up in your business and forget about everything else. Simple questions like “How are you feeling today” or “How was your day?” are forgotten and replaced with “I didn’t ship out the order to the customer on time!”, “I need to contact a client about XYZ!”, “This is what happened in MY day”, and you tune out when they share theirs. It’s not intentional, but your mind is consumed by the millions of things that needed to be done that day.

Bottom Line? Set boundaries and communicate often.

When you are distracted with work, especially the kind of work required as an entrepreneur, it is easy for the time to fly without you thinking of anything else. However, you have to take a few moments on a regular basis to let your significant other know that he or she is on your mind.

You have to communicate effectively (this involves two present people) and make a place for your partner in your business, even if it’s a small role that helps them stay connected to where YOUR mind is all the time.

The faster you realize that the state of your relationship may affect your business since it will affect your emotions, the faster you will intentionally make changes to create a stronger bond.

Mastering the keys to a successful relationship isn’t easy, but it’s sure worth it.

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