Running your own business can be a great alternative to having a traditional job. It can give you tremendous personal freedom. It also can feel stifling and overwhelming. Hard or easy, being an entrepreneur creates unique challenges for your relationship.
When you work for yourself, you think of your business as your child. In the startup phases, it can feel as demanding as a newborn. You worry that if you are not intently focused on it, everything could fall apart. You have a lot invested in the project so you go the extra mile to pay attention to every little detail.
Your spouse may have their own career, take care of the kids, or work alongside you. Whichever, they are likely to have some strong feelings about the business. Those feelings affect the quality of your relationship in many areas.
Your spouse has to support you in a variety of conflicting ways. They need to be your cheerleader and encourager. Your spouse holds you accountable to keeping healthy boundaries. And they need to call you on your BS when you go off the deep end. For the most part, they sit on the sidelines without being able to change the direction of your business. Even though they have a lot invested and a lot to lose.
Owning a business puts extra stress on your relationship. Common concerns are:
Financial stability tied to the fluctuations of your business.
Your spouse needing enough of your attention to sustain and grow your relationship.
Managing your time so you are able to take part in family events and kids’ activities.
Putting off basic self-care until the business is more stable.
Always working understaffed.
You get my point. I could list another 20 unique challenges, but you already know them because you live them. You could write a book about it.
The question is: How to have a great relationship and run a business.
Tips for Having a Good Relationship While Running a Business.
Pay yourself. This sounds like a no-brainer. Yet, we all either know business owners who did not pay themselves. Or we have been that business owner. It puts a huge strain on your relationship when the business doesn’t stand on its own two feet. It is a double insult to your spouse if the business takes all your time and there is no money coming in to show for it. Don't let your partner carry all the financial burden. It will lead to resentfulness which is corrosive to love.
Need ideas how to fix it? Read “Profit First” and/or “Fix This Next” by Mike Michalowicz for a plan.
Delegate. Easier said than done? Of course, it is. This is your business that we are talking about. Don’t get into the trap of believing that only you can do everything. Most business owners wait waaaayyyy toooo loonnnggg before hiring help. When you delegate, you end up being more efficient at the parts of the business that you are a genius at.
Know and honor your priorities. You cannot treat everything like it is the highest priority. If you do, you will shift like waves in a storm or run from one crisis to the next. And no one will feel like they are your priority. You need to know what matters most and then divide your time accordingly.
There will always be crises. Many business owners spend their time and energy running from one crisis to the next. They miss the activities that will move their business forward. You need to create time and space that allows you to decide on the agenda for the day. Remember, your business needs to serve you, not the other way around.
Set good time boundaries. Create a work schedule that works for you and your family. You need to separate your “work time” from the rest of your life. Otherwise, the business will take up all your time. There are always more things to do in a day than time to do them, so you have to know when to stop. Your family needs to have your presence and full attention on a regular basis. You need to be in charge of your calendar as much as possible.
Show them you care. Set aside at least a few minutes for your partner and each child Every Single Day. Treat that time like it is precious and sacred. Don’t let work obligations or crises interrupt it. You family needs you to show up for them regularly. Don't let them feel like an afterthought or that they are at the whim of your schedule.
Practice good relationship habits. Don’t skip the easy stuff. It is important that you say good morning and good night, have short conversations regularly and send quick texts during the day. These things don’t feel so hard when you make sure that they happen every single day. When you build them into your schedule, you don’t have to work so hard to make sure that they happen. Don’t let them slip away in the busyness.
You can have a great marriage even with the stresses of running a business. Be intentional with your time and energy so that you make choices and are not just reactive. This isn’t hard. But it does require you to be in charge so you balance the very different needs of your family and your business.
One of the most powerful relationship repairs is to go forward and never hurt your partner that way again. Of course, you can only prove that through action, not intention. Most people will find their partner to be gracious, generous, and forgiving. Especially if the hurtful behavior does not form a pattern or if you are able to stop hurting them.
Want to know more about how couples coaching can help you work through the unique issues of running a business and having a great relationship? Read more about how to work with me.
Cheri Timko is the creator of Synergy Coaching, an online community helping committed couples have great relationships. Learn more about how to get involved in this movement of couples who don't just want to stay together but want to thrive together here.