Relationships can be a source of joy. They can create a rock solid foundation from which you can launch every day, offering you the freedom and confidence to start a business or to push through to the next stage of growth.
So what happens if a relationship doesn’t support your passion-based work?
I got out of such a relationship some time ago. I couldn’t explain it, then, but I felt like I was ready for inner growth and business evolution that, for some reason, wasn’t happening while I was with my partner.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried — I had. I remember being sad and confused because I couldn’t seem to evolve the way I wanted to when I was with my partner. I was exploring new options, launching new ideas, and getting to know other entrepreneurs who were ahead of me and could show me the way. I had all the tools — but it wasn’t happening. And the longer I was stuck pushing on the same invisible glass ceiling, the worse I felt.
Here are some of the things I was experiencing:
- Jealousy of my ability to manage my own schedule (and misconstruing it as laissez-faire freedom)
- Fear of the space I requested to grow and evolve
- Imbalance of power due to our careers
- Misunderstanding the natural ebb and flow of funds for an entrepreneur
- Lack of connection on the passion-based work I am driven to do
How to Start A Business While in A Relationship
Hold the phone. I’m not saying you can’t be in a relationship and be an entrepreneur! Starting a business while in a relationship can be tricky, but with the right communication, it can be an amazing experience for you both. Here are my tips and best practices for this process.
Start With The Passion
There is a reason you want to start a business — and I’m pretty sure it’s not just to make money. You’ve got an idea, a passion, and some savvy, and you’re itching for an adventure. I know you’ve been thinking about this for a while, and you partner has probably noticed a glimmer of the idea, too. When you speak about your passion, you will shine. Tell your partner as much as you can about your idea — why this idea, why this passion, why this business. Just thinking about it probably makes you excited to get up in the morning, and they will see that.
Explain Why You’re Not Trying To Get A Job
Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people. Getting a job in the field of your passion isn’t enough. There’s something more — a vision of the future that only we can see. For some, this is a hard concept to grasp (it was hard for my former partner). I can’t tell you what to say, because everyone is different, but for me I wanted to be able to control the vision so that it doesn’t get muddied over the years by other agendas. I also have seen what happens at tech companies to women, and I didn’t want to experience that, anymore. You have your own reasons, but also remember who you’re speaking to, and what words they will respond best to.
Show Your Cards
If your partner is anything like mine, they’ll want to know you have some kind of next steps or direction. This isn’t because they want you to prove you can do it — if they know you well, they know you can — it’s that they are worried about you. By demonstrating your next steps, you show that you’ve truly thought this through. Even better, describe any steps you’ve taken already, even if it took place on Google. The more specific you can be, the better.
What Do You Expect Of Them?
Setting expectations early on can be difficult if you’re starting something new, but it’s important to try. Your partner will be better able to support you if they know how you want to be supported. Some partners may jump to the conclusion that you’re asking for a business partner — which is probably not the case. Start by making that clear, and then tell them how they can help. Some of my clients appreciate a homemade meal waiting for them after a long day of meetings and calls, while others just need a quite house during the day. One of my clients is lucky enough to have a partner who loves building systems, and while they are not officially part of the business, they join in business building activities.
Make sure you listen, too. Your partner will tell you if they have the gumption to join you in your journey, or truly want to remain a cheerleader. This part of the conversation will likely take some negotiation, so be open to that. Asking too much (or too little) can lead to burn out for you both.
Set Boundaries, Baby!
If you haven’t heard of the work / life balance, yet, it’s time you do. Not only is it important for you to not work yourself to the bone early on, it’s also important that you don’t suck your partner in unwittingly. If your partner is not going to have any involvement in the business (not even giving you ideas about your business) then learn to leave them out of it. This means your partner is a part of the “life” portion of the work / life balance. Some of my past partners are helpers, just like myself, and any mention of stress or difficulty made them want to jump in and solve the problem. Keeping this balance means that you can vent, you can complain, but you also don’t allow them to jump in to help without a deeper conversation about what it means and why it’s ok in this instance.
How has it gone with your partner or spouse? Share below to support others! Yours in passion,