In a few months, I'll hit my five-year mark as an entrepreneur running and building Practice Makes Perfect. But one topic that is rarely discussed is dating and maintaining a relationship. It can be extremely difficult for both you and your significant other to maintain a connection when you trying to start a business.
Wes are a rare breed. Our minds are constantly moving from business function to business function with little to no breaks in between. We treat our companies like our babies and we struggle to decouple our business success and failure from our personal happiness and sadness.
So as I start to reflect on my five-year journey, one thing I wanted to share was how I was able to maintain a meaningful two-year relationship while juggling a company.
Here are my five tips:
1. Be upfront about your commitment to your company.
As much as you possibly can, let the other person know what your obligation is, what room there is for flexibility and what you're doing. The more you can share about why you're doing what you're doing and the importance of it, the more forgiving your partner will be when you're stuck putting out the inevitable fires in the office. You need to sell your partner on your vision like you would anyone else that you're hiring.
2. Involve your significant other in your business.
In the earlier days, have the person help you with some of your work (this gets harder as the company gets bigger). The more he or she does, the more invested the person will be. As your company matures, move the person out of actual work and get his or her take on key company decisions.
3. Share your calendar with your significant other.
Like many other entrepreneurs, I follow my calendar fairly religiously. One of my biggest fears when I set out on my own was that I wouldn't have enough work to do or that people wouldn't want to meet with me. Nowadays, I have my calendar booked months in advance. Being super transparent about what you're doing and where you are builds trust. It also saves you from the occasional "where are you" and "what are you doing" questions. The one caveat here is not to assume that your significant other is always checking your calendar. Access to it is not an excuse not to communicate travel and longer periods of absence.
4. Be honest about how long you could check out for.
Taking a break, going on vacations with your significant other and making the person the center of attention is important. But don't set unrealistic expectations.
One of the things I appreciated most was being forced to check out. One of the things I appreciated least was being convinced that I could check out for more than three or four days in the earlier days of my business. Agreeing to something longer sets you up for failure, and your significant other for disappointment. I’ve found that four and even three days unplugged are more than enough to recharge. If you really love to take breaks, I’d suggest increasing the frequency of the trips you take, instead of the duration of each of them.
5. Make your significant other your number-one priority.
Of all the tips, this is one I wish I did more. It sounds counterintuitive, because you're probably told to always make your business your number-one priority, but if you're with the right person and they're bought in to your vision, they wouldn't ever put you in a position that would jeopardize your business success. The right significant other knows that your success is their success.