When it comes to who is your #1 support staff as you launch your new business, the answer might surprise you. When you think of support staff, you might think of your virtual assistant, your secretary, your accountant or any one of the number of people who help you succeed in your business. But your top supporter is a little closer to home.
Ready for it? Drumroll please.
Your #1 support staff member is your spouse or partner.
It’s not such a stretch, really. After all, this is the person who accommodates you when you have to work late to ensure your business doesn’t fall apart. The person who doesn’t miss a beat in picking up the kids when you have a long conference call. And yet, if you’re not treating your life partner as a cherished and respected member of your team, you only cause yourself (and yes, your partner) misery.
Switch Shoes for a Moment
Just for a second, imagine what it’s like to be married to or living with you. Aside from fawning over your good looks and irresistible charm, I’m imagining your partner or spouse can identify with at least a few of the following points:
- Feeling let down when you can’t make an event you promised to attend
- Tired of explaining to the kids why you work so much
- Feeling like #2 to your business
- Wondering when the 65-hour work weeks will end
Living with an entrepreneur is no picnic. And yet, we tend to take these people — the ones we care about the most — for granted as part of the landscape for our business. If you want to keep your partner from screaming and heading for the hills, treat him or her as if they were your number one customers. Here’s how you can keep them happy and ensure success both in your relationship and in your business.
Be Open and Honest. If you are going to miss dinner every night this week, let your partner know up front. It’s better than creating expectations you can’t deliver on. When you first start your business, it’s important to have a long conversation about what both of you expect, so that you can meet somewhere in the middle.
If, for example, he says he’s willing to let you work late but insists you’re home to put the kids to bed, find a way to make that happen. Maybe you work from home after the wee ones are asleep. Or maybe you both agree that for the first 6 months, you’ll have to put a lot of time and energy in the business, but after that, you’ll cut back on the hours you put in.
Include Your Partner, Without Overwhelming. Your partner cares about your business because you care about it. So share the wins, and even the frustrations. But don’t bog him down with the details, or use her to vent about a hard day at work. The most important thing is to realize your partner shouldn’t be able to guess what kind of day you’ve had based on how you treat them.
When You’re Home, Be 100% Present. This is challenging for us technology-lovin’ business owners, but it’s essential for a happy relationship. Once you leave the office (even if it’s home-based), you take off your CEO hat and put your husband/wife/parent/friend hat on. You’ll be tempted to check work email or even sneak a few minutes of work in while you’re supposed to be watching The Voice, but resist.
This is for your own sanity, too. Keeping your personal time and work time clearly delineated will help you return to the office rejuvenated and ready to get back to work. And it’ll improve your relationship.
If you spend a little time focused on the success of your relationship, balance between the two is possible.