Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Jacquette M. Timmons @jacqmtimmons. Jacquette is in the business of helping people create a healthy relationship with their money. As a behavioral finance enthusiast, she works as a financial coach, trainer, and speaker. Jacquette is also the author of Financial Intimacy; How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate ” For more information: http://www.sterlingchoices.net.
SmallBizLady: How far in advance of my “launch” should I begin telling my spouse of my intentions?
Jacquette M. Timmons: You should tell your spouse of your intentions to launch a business once you have clarity about what you plan to offer, to whom, and about how much capital you’ll need to get started. You don’t necessarily need to have the specifics of “how” figured out just yet, but you should have some preliminary ideas about how you plan to position and package your services/products. Knowing this information before you have the “talk” is important for several reasons: a) it’ll communicate your seriousness (this is not a hobby), and b) it’ll give you the confidence to answer the inevitable (and rightful) questions your spouse is likely to have. This is also a good time to express why your business idea is so important to you.
SmallBizLady: Do I need to share every detail or just the big picture?
Jacquette M. Timmons: Whether you decide to share every detail of our business or just the big picture really depends upon the best way your spouse takes in information, and which approach will help them be the most supportive of you.
SmallBizLady: What do I need to know about my mate’s experience & family history with small biz ownership?
Jacquette M. Timmons: If your mate grew up in a household where their mother or father was a successful business owner, they are likely to be quite supportive of your endeavor. If, on the other hand, the family was always on the brink of financial disaster or actually lost their home and other forms of comfort (e.g., horseback riding classes, summer camp, etc.) because of the mother’s or father’s business, your desire to own a business may trigger some unpleasant memories and bring to the surfaces buried fears. Of course, none of this will be done at a conscious level. That is why understanding your spouse’s family history when it comes to entrepreneurship will prove beneficial; it’ll help you react to their reaction to your idea and desire.
SmallBizLady: How do I get my spouse to see the viability of my business?
Jacquette M. Timmons: You get your spouse to see the viability of your business by “showing” them its viability. If they are visual, prepare a PowerPoint presentation; if they geek out over “numbers,” use Excel. In essence, let the numbers do the talking for you — show research that supports why your target market is ideal; show statistics to reveal what the problem is you are solving; show numbers that demonstrate why your ideal client will find your solution attractive; show cashflow and profitability forecasts.
SmallBizLady: How do we agree on how much of our assets and or savings we will put at risk?
Jacquette M. Timmons: To determine how much you and your mate are willing to put at risk is both complicated and simple at the same time; complicated because it’s highly emotional and variable, yet simple if you come up with a plan and honor it. Here is an unscientific formula: add up your family’s expenses for the next 24 months, to that add up any major high-ticket obligations you foresee within the next 24 months. Start with this sum as the amount to consider putting at risk. If that number scares the bejezzus out of you and your mate, then work you way down in 10k increments to a number that feels less scary. Notice I said “less scary;” that was on purpose. Any number you come with is going to take you and your mate out of your comfort zones, but there is a number that doesn’t feel as if you are jumping off a bridge without a net.
SmallBizLady: Do I need to tell my spouse about my business partners, if I have any?
Jacquette M. Timmons: Absolutely, your spouse should know who your business partner/s is/are. As well, your mate should know what your ownership percentage is relative to the other partner/s. You’re not looking for your spouse to vet them (it’s up to you to do that due diligence). But since part of your money is coming from the household’s pool of resources, your mate is entitled to know with who you are in business. Likewise, your spouse should either know where your Business Agreement is filed or who your attorney is. Your mate may need to reference your Agreement if, God forbid, something happens to you.
SmallBizLady: What’s the best way to address my spouse’s fears and concerns?
Jacquette M. Timmons: The best way to respect your spouse’s fears and concerns is to first hear them without being defensive. Remember, this business idea is your dream and it has been on your heart and mind for a long period of time. Therefore, you’ve had a chance to process many of the questions your mate is likely to have; it only comes on their radar once you have the “talk.” Next, ask a ton of questions until you get to the root of what is at the core of their fear or concern; it is rarely the first – or even – second thing they indicate. Invest the time to get to the core and they will see that you are taking them seriously and are not strong-arming them. The biggest key here is to not get defensive. The second biggest key is to not get discouraged if you have to have multiple conversations — you may not sufficiently address everything with one discussion and you shouldn’t put that pressure on your relationship to do so anyway.
SmallBizLady: What can I do to hear my mate’s concerns/fears and not take it as criticism?
Jacquette M. Timmons: The best way to not take your mate’s expression of their concerns and fears as criticism is to not take it personally – don’t receive it as an attack on your talent and vision. Listen to them with the intent to understand (not prove) anything (communication 101, eh?) and think of it this way: Whatever questions they are asking are likely to be the same that either a potential client or investor may ask. Answering your mate’s questions is perfect practice for you!
SmallBizLady: How can my spouse be supportive of me when the business is going through a rough patch?
Jacquette M. Timmons: Every business goes through a rough patch. Most people identify rough patches with financial challenges, but that isn’t always the case. You could simply be slammed by multiple deadlines in a contracted period of time that alters your business and personal rhythm. Your spouse can help you adapt to these periods by picking up some of the household duties/chores you would normally do, and helping you with some administrative business tasks, if possible. And if it is the case that the rough patch is financial, your spouse can help by being more mindful of the household’s expenses. Finally, sometimes the best antidote to a rough patch is a sounding board. A spouse who listens without feeling the need to offer suggestions can be one of the best gifts when the going gets rough.
SmallBizLady: How soon should I tell him/her that the business plan isn’t unfolding as envisioned?
Jacquette M. Timmons: I am making a presumption here and that is that you and your mate agreed a) how much capital would be invested in your business, b) you came to an agreement with regards to thresholds in terms of benchmarks to hit in terms of cashflow, revenue and profit, and c) that you identified trigger points for each of those parameters for when you should sound the alarm bell. Therefore, you should alert you mate as soon as you hit the trigger points. Don’t wait to see if things will turn around — come clean as soon as you hit it, even if you have accounts receivables that indicate you’ll be out of the danger zone within a quarter or two. Doing so will go a long way in building a deeper bond and trust with your mate and reinforcing you are concerned about your his/her sense of security.
SmallBizLady: What’s the best way to help my spouse feel as if the business is “theirs” too?
Jacquette M. Timmons: Help your spouse see that your business is a “family” endeavor by allowing them to pitch in and help how they can/where they can. Also, listen to their feedback and show that you’ve heard their suggestions and explain the business reason for either why you are/aren’t going to do as they suggested.
SmallBizLady: If the ups & downs are affecting our intimacy, do you have any suggestions?
Jacquette M. Timmons: Being a small business owner is always a combination of exciting and exhausting. And those ups and downs can definitely have a ripple affect on your relationship and even spill over into your bedroom. -;o( So you must make a commitment to protect your relationship by blocking off alone time and scheduling dates; make sure household chores and duties don’t become lop-sided because of your business. (This becomes especially true if you are working a day job while starting your business.); and make sure you schedule times to update your spouse on your progress. Does this seem unromantic? Truth is you schedule everything else that is important to you, and this shouldn’t be any different. If you don’t schedule it, there’s a greater chance quality 1×1 time together won’t happen…now, that is what is unromantic!
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Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also bestseller author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.