The past few years have been financially tough for many couples. Lay-offs, down sizing, lowered wages, hiring freezes, raise freezes and the overall downturn in the economy have all been tough, to say the least. Many people have used the economic downturn to reassess where they are in their careers and to look at where they want to be in their futures. For some, the answer has been to go into business for themselves.
As you can imagine, talking with your spouse about wanting to start your own business in this economy may not be the easiest of conversations. For those of you who are considering this option and are wary about how your partner will hear your idea, be smart about how you share it. Below are several tips on how to increase the odds that such a conversation will go well:
1. Think before you speak. Do not approach your partner with a jaw-dropping statement such as, “Honey, you know I’m tired of working for someone else. I’m sure I can do better than Joe Shmow and I’m going to take the leap and start my own business!” Instead of dropping a bomb, be planful and think about your message before you speak it. If you’re in the mulling-it-over stage, tell your partner that you’re just playing with options and working for yourself is one of them. If you’re seriously thinking of starting a business, let them know that and be clear that you would like them to be open to the idea and be willing to participate in this discussion with an open mind.
2. Know your audience. If your partner is open to new ideas, taking risks and you have a good relationship, have them join you in the brainstorming of pros and cons. If your partner tends to be worried about risks, then it’s in your best interest to have more information before you present this idea to them. If your partner is a planner and has a critical eye, then you may want to have a fairly detailed proposal to present. Don’t try to fight against the type of partner you have-instead, go with it and use their personality as a map to guide you in your approach with them.
3. Answer their concerns before they voice them. This point goes along with knowing your audience. Will your partner be worried about the financial risk, your follow through, the market, your business concept, your work ethic, your ability to balance work and home life or (fill in the blank)? Imagine what your partner’s argument will be and provide a solution before they even raise it (and be honest!). For example, if they’ll be afraid of the finances, have a plan laid out for the maximum financial risk you will take, a safety net in place if it takes longer to take off than you expected and a plan to save enough money to be able to start this business responsibly. Have a realistic assessment of what the start-up costs will be and the expected revenue coming in (hint: it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to under-deliver and over-promise). Keep your estimates real!
4. Be planful and smart. Have a plan. How will you make it work? How much money must you bring in to pay the bills? How will you build the business? How will you market it? Who’s your target audience? The details are endless. If you’re serious you will need to have a plan. Gather the resources you need, network and be smart about how you carry this idea to fruition.
Creating your own business is hard work. Don’t go into this venture with rose-colored glasses and have grandiose ideas, just hoping that you’ll make it work. If you think like this, your partner should be scared. Working for yourself can be an amazing journey that’s filled with freedom, joy and many struggles along the way. Listen to your partner’s concerns, honor their voice and partner with one another on this decision. Do not move in power-move in partnership.
Challenge: If you want to start a business, know this is stressful to even the most easy going of partners. Respect their anxiety and use it as a map to create a great business plan. Good luck and enjoy the journey!