“Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job,” serial inventor Lori Greiner tells us from the set of Shark Tank. “Running your own business and running it well requires obsessive focus and insane drive. You have to sacrifice a lot while putting in exhausting amounts of work and time.”
With so many hours logged on the clock and so few moments to catch your breath, personal relationships often pay the price. “But they don’t have to,” Greiner says, “not if you invite your friends and loved ones to the table and let them play a role.”
She did just that with her husband, Daniel. The so-called “warm-hearted” Shark’s motivation was twofold: It was mainly because she needed his help and partly to safeguard their marriage from atrophying under the crush of her “crazy” schedule.
When running the company she launched in 1996, For Your Ease Only, Inc., became unmanageable on her own, the Chicago native hired her other half, a longtime financial executive at Bell & Howell. His primary job: handle the startup’s finances. Greiner was five years into being an entrepreneur at the time, and exhausted. (Her husband is now vice president of the company.)
“For the longest time I did it all,” Greiner says. “I played every hat. I was in the factory, doing the graphic design, the photography, the selling -- literally everything.” Until she couldn’t. “I was willing to do as much as possible by myself until I simply had no choice but to hire someone.”
With her husband on board -- and on her payroll -- their “emotional bond” grew stronger and their relationship flourished, as did their nest egg, now estimated somewhere in the ballpark of $15 million. “Including [Daniel] in the love of what I do gave us that closeness together, that time couples need,” she says. “It’s great because we always have something in common to talk about and he can travel with me, but not everybody has that luxury.”
If you don’t, if you aren’t in a position to hire your loved ones to work directly with you, she suggests at least involving them in some way so they don’t feel alienated and left out. “It’s best to try to include them as much as you can, even if that means having them help you design or name an invention together,” she says. “What you do as an entrepreneur, make it inclusive to the people you love. As busy as you are, they still need you.”
To glean more of Greiner's advice, catch her on Shark Tank's Season Eight premiere on your local ABC station on Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET.