Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business: A Planning Guide for Couples

Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business: A Planning Guide for Couples

by Azriela L. Jaffe

Hardcover(1st ed)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780887307959
Publisher: Harper Business
Publication date: 06/28/1996
Edition description: 1st ed
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.11(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Creatinga Family Plan

Self-Employment Alternatives Considering Family Issues

One day I dragged myself home from a really bad day at work and I said to my wife, "Honey, I want to quit my job." She took a deep breath, and then she said, "OK, Charlie, what do you want to do instead?" I told her I didn't know, but we'd figure it out together.

Former middle manager

When I decided to buy the sporting goods store, my wife, Jill, said she was all for it. But then she started giving me all sorts of grief when I had to work long hours and when we couldn't take our normal vacations anymore. I wish I had known how she really felt before I bought the store.

When David decided he wanted to buy the sporting goods store, I thought it sounded great. I wanted him to be happy, but I didn't know that the store would consume his every waking moment. Ever since he opened the store, I feel like a widow. What's the point of working so hard, if we're never together to enjoy the benefits?

David and Jill, a couple in their mid-fifties

After twenty-seven years of marriage, David and Jill found themselves on different paths. David dreamed of several prosperous stores and Jill longed for a comfortable early retirement with her husband. If they had discussed the questions necessary for entrepreneurs to create a mutual family plan, then they might have discussed their differences before investing their savings in the sporting goods store.

"Honey, I want to quit my job," or, "Honey, I want to start my own business." How many times have you or your intimate partner blurted out one of these two phrases?It can be an emotionally charged moment. After all, you've heard the gruesome statistics. Over half of all marriages will end in divorce. The chances of succeeding in a small business are about one in ten. If you are considering starting your own business, or purchasing a business with your spouse or intimate partner, or you are already committed to entrepreneurship as a lifestyle, you've probably bought this book to help you beat the odds against divorce and business failure. Business experts stress the importance of creating a thorough business plan before starting a new business. Now learn how to prepare a family plan as well.

Why Create a Family Plan?

When I was a single entrepreneur, my only family issue was who would walk and feed my dog when I worked late. Now, as a wife and mother of four children, neither my husband nor I can make any major business decisions without considering our family's needs. When you live with people who are important to you, business decisions are no longer entirely yours to make. What you do for a living, and how you shape your workday, affects all who live with you, or rely on you, each day.

The most common mistake married entrepreneurs make is to rush into business decisions without careful thought and discussion of how their business dreams will involve and affect their family. Consider several reasons why this happens:

  • Blind enthusiasm: The entrepreneur, so excited about the prospect of a new business, doesn't want to consider any possible negative resistance.

  • Running away: The entrepreneur is rebounding from sudden job loss, job dissatisfaction, worries about finances, or the failure of another business. The need to move quickly into a new alternative takes precedence over careful planning.

  • Egocentricity: The entrepreneur assumes that his or her spouse and family will make the necessary adjustments to support him or her.

  • Fear or inability to communicate: The entrepreneur isn't accustomed to discussing openly with a spouse issues that will affect their relationship and lifestyle. Act first, talk later (only if necessary), is this entrepeneur's motto.

  • Blissful naivete: The entrepreneur is completely unaware of how the prospective business will affect marriage and family life. He or she can't imagine potential concerns and questions until they actually arise.

The most common mistake partners of entrepreneurs make is to offer unconditional support from the beginning--in concept--without thinking through the implications of such a lifestyle change. Their support wanes when the actual hardships of self-employment rub up against their fantasy. Consider several reasons why this happens:

  • Well-intended support: They want to champion their partners' dreams. They don't want to throw cold water on their mates' enthusiasm.

  • Starstruck: They share their partners' romantic vision for great prosperity and an improved relationship and family life. They are as excited as their partners about the entrepreneurial opportunity ahead.

  • Lack of knowledge or awareness: They don't really understand the demands of self-employment and how their partners' self-employment will affect their life.

  • Fear or inability to communicate: They have great reservations but are afraid to voice their opinion. They don't want their partners to think less of them, be angry with them, or feel unsupported by them.

  • It's better than nothing: Their partners' job loss or lack of meaningful work frightens them. They are anxious for their spouses to find their right livelihood or to earn some income, even if family sacrifices may be necessary.

  • They weren't asked: Though their partners' worklife affects them, their partners don't invite their involvement in the planning process or ask for their opinion.

Some entrepreneurial naivete is par for the course. Self-employment always involves risk and unknowns. To muster the courage required to start a business, entrepreneurs and their spouses must view their entrepreneurial prospects with a certain amount of romantic illusion. It is not unlike getting married or raising a child.

When we make a deep personal commitment to a relationship, "for better or worse," we know on some level that those worse days will come. We focus initially on positive dreams for the future and the deep love we feel for our partners. Imagine if we had a crystal ball and on our wedding day we could see some of our worst days ahead. If we knew what was ahead we might not be willing to commit to our partners for a lifetime. We might not even be in a relationship. Rosy-colored, romantic illusion encourages us to embark on an unpredictable difficult journey.

The family plan is a map as well as a compass for your entrepreneurial adventure. Creating a family plan will not eliminate your romantic vision or throw cold water on your entrepreneurial dreams, but it will ensure that you are at least traveling with your mate on the same path, in the right general direction. Thoroughly discussing your business dreams and planning with your family will help you choose the entrepreneurial path with the most potential for satisfying your long-term individual, couple, and family goals.

Before you choose to commit to your mate for a lifetime, you ask and answer at least some basic questions. Do you want children? Where do you want to live? What religion will you observe? How much money and sex do you need to be happy? Though aware of differences, when the answers to enough basic questions are in sync with each other, you are able to envision building a life together. The same goes for business. This chapter provides discussion points so that you can involve your mate as early in the business planning process as possible. A family plan complements your business plan as a measure toward protecting your relationship and family from unexpected hardships of small business ownership. You can construct a family plan in any format that suits you, written or verbal, formal or casual, as long as it answers your most important couple and family questions and concerns.

Fifty Questions to Ask Yourself and Your
Mate When Creating a Family Plan

Think of creating a family plan for your business venture as the equivalent of those late-night discussions you had with your partner when you were first courting. Remember when you shared your dreams with each other in detail, when you wanted to know everything about each other? You would visualize how your life would look and feel after you took the plunge to live together, how you would share your living space, where you would live, even questions as simple as who would get the bigger closet!

When you meet your life partner, you answer questions big and small in order to merge your lives. The longer you are with your mate, the less likely you may be to communicate with each other in the same kind of depth characterized by your dating years. Yet, the consideration of self-employment alternatives deserves that kind of discussion with your life partner, no matter how long you have been together. Setting aside private time from your busy lives to answer the following questions about any self-employment alternative that either or both of you are considering will save you much heartache and financial woe down the road.

What People are Saying About This

Ronald E. Yates

"Every aspiring entrepreneurial couple should read [it]."

Olivia Mellan

"This book is a MUST for any couple planning to work in a business together, or where one or both of them want to take a large financial risk."

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