When I first meet people we touch on many of the same topics – you are a parent? Why so am I! How many kids do you have? What are their ages? What does your spouse do?
The answers to the questions on kids usually net the same responses “aww…, you must have your hands full… or, I remember when mine where that same age.” But the responses I receive when I tell people that my husband owns his own business can be quite varied. I can always tell when I’ve met another supportive other-half based on his or her sympathetic sigh, and I’ve found there are a lot of pre-conceived misconceptions out there on what it means to be married to an entrepreneur.
1. There are no weekends or PTO days.
This truth comes home each and every time one of our children bring home one of those fun viruses they grow in daycare. Or even worse – if he comes down with an illness himself. He risks our children’s future each time he misses, or is forced to reschedule, a meeting as his competition can easily fill up that opening on the potential customer’s calendar. This means that sick days are stay home with mommy days. Not 50% stay home with mommy and 50% stay home with daddy days. Of course this puts me at higher risk of developing daycare plague myself, and I don’t handle being sick well. Even when he is at home, he is never far from his work. One day, he will be able to turn these meetings over to someone else, but that day isn’t today.
2. Just because he is the boss, doesn’t mean he controls the schedule.
Not too long ago, one of my colleagues was considering hiring a new staffer. As we compared notes about the candidate, she mentioned that the potential new staffer’s husband was in business for himself. She thought this was a selling point for the candidate as she believed it would allow the candidate additional flexibility in working hours.
It doesn’t. See truth #1. I have to leave my day job at close of normal business hours on the dot to pick up our children as the husband could be in any number of places within the state. I am lucky to have my day job with a family friendly organization that understands how quickly the meter runs at a daycare for every minute you are late for pick-up. But there are a number of organizations out there less sympathetic and I know my boss would prefer to see me around the office longer.
An aside – we still hired the candidate, because she was a great fit, but I had to laugh at my colleague’s rationale.
3. The checks coming in are made out to his company – not to us.
Profits are spent on labor, overhead, supplies, and re-investment in the company. Yes, some of that labor number does come back to us in terms of salary, but that number is no where close to the number reported for chief operating officers in publically traded companies.
When employees make careless mistakes, that comes out of company profits, and if the company isn’t profitable, then our family’s financial security is as much at risk, or even more so, than the employee’s. On a more selfish note – I don’t mind working a day job and writing on the side if its something I choose to do. I do not appreciate having the choice taken away from me over something that could have been prevented.
4. The overnight success takes at least five years of work.
Unless you live in Dr. Seuss world and sell Thneeds, growing a business from start-up (or writing a book) takes long hours, hard work, sacrifice and a measure of insanity. If you and or your significant other can’t accommodate truths 1 – 3 over the long run, you really shouldn’t try. It will ruin your relationship along with your finances.
Expectant mothers, people with heart conditions, or those who experience motion sickness a/or seasickness should also proceed into first time entrepreneurship with caution. There are a ton of rapid up and downs. Rollercoasters pale in comparison. You may lose your lunch.
5. There is a big difference between being self employed and being an entrepreneur.
To be a successful entrepreneur means finding a team of people who can help support your vision and who can build on the company’s momentum in their own way without you. I may not receive a paycheck from my husband’s company, but I am just as vested in its success.
Entrepreneurship (or being the supportive other-half of an entrepreneur) isn’t for everyone, and there should be no shame in admitting that about yourself, preferably before you file any paperwork with your local city or bank and find out the hard way.
If our kids had already been born, we may never have started this journey together, but even now I don’t regret it. I doubt either of us could go back. When writing a book, I found the blank page at times to be overwhelming. Much like when he started his business. I was thankful to have him in my corner supporting me throughout this process, urging me on, and helping to sell my books when he can. Together we found in business and in authorship, you must first start with a letter.
- Realities of Leaving a Day Job and Pursuing Entrepreneurship (alleywatch.com)
- 5 Things You Should Know About Entrepreneurship (twoentrepreneurs.org)
- Calling All Mom-preneurs! (freshpaperstudios.wordpress.com)
- Guest piece: Apps and diapers – building an app business and a family at the same time (coronalabs.com)
- 10 people who won’t be happy as entrepreneurs (examiner.com)
- 4 Questions Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Need to Ask Themselves (business2community.com)