Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with @meika_mashack. Meika Mashack, MSW, BCaBA, Relationship Specialist & Life Coach is a highly regarded, well sought after skilled clinician due to her unique combination of intuitive interpersonal skills, relationship building insight, and experience in business and athletics. Although Meika encompasses an impressive professional and academic background, her honest/direct approach and relatability makes her attractive to professionals in business as well as in their personal lives. She has helped develop professionals from a holistic perspective to achieve optimal results in business, athletics, and relationships, while developing emotional fortitude. Her straightforward and practical approach has been highly successful with individuals wanting more meaningful relationships in their personal lives, athletics, and in business advancement. For more info visit coachingwithoutwalls.com
SmallBizLady: How can I get my partner to become excited about my entrepreneurial dreams?
Meika Mashack: Sharing your entrepreneurial dreams/passion with your partner is key. However, in relationships YOUR passion doesn’t automatically equate to the other party feeling equally as passionate. Pairing one’s passion WITH a plan may help your partner to see your vision but may not “excite” them. Especially when a couple’s resources or income will be/are effected by the partner’s entrepreneurial goals. Be mindful and patient if the initial excitement isn’t there.
(Lashing out about their lack of excitement NEVER breeds excitement!)
SmallBizLady: How can my mate be priority when the majority of my time is spent working my business?
Meika Mashack: This is such a critical point. In my experience MANY partners, even ones who were initially supportive, become resentful of the business their partner has started. Making sure there is a work/life balance is key. Every SBO must learn how to “turn it off” at times and simply spend time connecting with their mate. When that does not happen, quite often the partner becomes resentful of the business, even as if the business represents an actual affair. Your business can have the same devastating effects as an affair. Ironically, many of the feelings are similar; Betrayal, inadequacy in keeping the mate’s attention, secrecy involving money….Be VERY careful of the symbolic mistress, aka nearsighted business owner. (You need your peripheral vision and others who will help you with your blind spots.)
SmallBizLady: How much should I expect of my partner with regard to supporting my business financially?
Meika Mashack: This is your business. No one person is obligated to fund or contribute, even as a partner. Having that expectation can be very risky and lead to other challenges. Furthermore, when someone contributes financially, typical rule-of-thumb is they feel a sense of ownership, even if small. A SBO may or may not want advice from someone who may have invested, even when it’s his or her partner. (Accepting financial resources makes it difficult to disagree or NOT act in a manner that the investor feels the owner should.)
SmallBizLady: How much emotional support should I expect of my partner in supporting my business?
Meika Mashack: You CANNOT expect your partner to be ALL THINGS in regards to supporting your business. That just isn’t fair. You need others within your field to support you, network with, and have discussions with. As a businesswoman, wife of 15 years and mother, I see how moms often support each other. Being a SBO has some similarities. There are just some times only a mother who has experienced being sleep-deprived with an infant child can understand a mother experiencing the same. Being constantly consumed with P & L may cause the loss of something more significant
SmallBizLady: What is the most critical relationship advice you can give to a budding SBO?
Meika Mashack: Coming from corporate, I never thought being a SBO meant I had to become the IT department, HR department, Marketing, Sales, Branding – all while being the janitor! It was overwhelming! But gaining support from other SBOs provided crucial tips for my success. Even as a Relationship Coach I had to remember the most important thing -Your mate is NOT your employee! If you begin expecting them to fill your gaps, you may be headed for “Relationship Disability!”
SmallBizLady: What are some of the major reasons that relationships fail generally?
Meika Mashack: Some of the key reasons for failed relationships are the age-old topics; Finances, Communication, Lack of Intimacy, Affairs.
SmallBizLady: What are some of the reasons relationships fail at a higher rate for Entrepreneurs/SBOs?
Meika Mashack: Since there is a HIGH percentage of relationships that fail due to issues surrounding finances, it only makes sense that rates are seemingly higher with SBOs. Cash flow difficulties and the unpredictability that new businesses face are cause for much patience and understanding in a relationship. They can be a strain in a strong relationship and even the demise of an already challenged one. Discuss this area openly and right from the beginning.
SmallBizLady: How can I vacillate between my independent business mindset & my interdependent relationship?
Meika Mashack: This is very hard for many SBOs, particularly women. I encourage clients to list the characteristics that make them great in their field (often independent, strong, driven, leadership) and show them how those characteristics can be harmful in a relationship IF they are not channeled appropriately. Doing this exercise with their partner also helps. Seeing the dichotomy helps both partners empathize.
SmallBizLady: What can I do to protect my relationship from failure without compromising my business?
Meika Mashack: Set up good habits IN THE BEGINNING! Scheduling time to invest in your partner, intimate time as well as recreational time is critical. When your partner begins to feel that you’re more passionate about your business rather than the relationship, resentment will begin to rear its ugly head.
SmallBizLady: Is it better to start a business WITH my spouse/partner?
Meika Mashack: This has much to do with the type of mate you have. Nurturing an intimate relationship is hard work. Additionally, nurturing a business partnership can take a great deal of effort as well. In my experience, if both people do not have the passion for the business, there is a higher rate of discord. One will question the other’s commitment, which bleeds over into the intimate relationship. However, it’s not impossible!
SmallBizLady: My partner seems jealous of my success. How can I make them feel included?
Meika Mashack: Be cautious of telling your partner only the bad OR only the good! It is important that when you share information about your business, your partner has a healthy understanding of challenges and success. It is similar to speaking to a close friend about your mate. They may get a skewed view if they ONLY hear the bad or the good. A partner will be less likely to feel jealous if they feel that it isn’t a competition between their career and yours and if they see the challenges involved in being a SBO, as well as the work it takes to resolve those challenges. It can look glamorous from the outside looking in, but a closer look will give your partner perspective.
SmallBizLady: How can I raise my partner’s interest level in what I do?
Meika Mashack: People are selfish by nature. They want to be heard, truly listened to. Whenever clients ask this question of me, I probe about THEIR partner’s career. More often than not, when my client views their partner’s career as “less” significant, the PARTNER is simply mirroring them! Subconsciously or not, we MUST give OF to get FROM. Relationships are reciprocal but as SBOs it is easy to get lost in the pursuit of success. As a SBO, make sure that you take time to support YOUR partner first before expecting their support. If they don’t understand your business, try to show commonalities between your business world and their life.
SmallBizLady: Any final advice for SBOs in relation to having a successful relationship?
Meika Mashack: Yes! When all else fails, grab your partner’s hand, look into their eyes and describe how/why they are loved, valued, and needed in your life. Even describe where YOU struggle as a mate. Then state your commitment to the relationship. I’m my years of experience I’ve found people simply need to hear that. A loving, kind, honest word can melt the stoniest heart. Always remember that.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.