This article was published in the Fall 2020 issue
by Jason B.A. Van Camp, Chairman of Mission Six Zero,
Executive Director of Warrior Rising
Your business venture isn't real until your wife (or spouse) supports it. It doesn't get more real than that.
Time and time again, I talk with our vetrepreneurs (US military veteran entrepreneurs) and find out that their spouse is totally in the dark on their start-up business idea. Inevitably, they fail. Then, I hear quotes such as this one: “My biggest failure in my business was not consulting my wife, establishing client boundaries and asking her what her thoughts, feelings and concerns are.”
Relationships need to be on the level.
Here’s the cold hard truth - your business idea isn’t real until your spouse supports it. The amount of time you invest in your venture is time you could be spending with your family. Spousal support is crucial for the success of your business because your spouse is along for the ride where the stakes are inevitably high. Spouses share in the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, but most importantly, they need to share in your same values and vision to move forward in not only the business but the marriage as well.
We have to put as much effort into building trust, engagement and commitment with our relationships at home as we do with our professional teams. Besides, our spouses have deeper insight into who we are than we do ourselves, and that can have a positive impact when we need help seeing our blind spots.
How do you get your spouse on board?
I served in the US Army Special Forces. When I stepped into my company commander’s office shortly after earning my green beret, he told me, “The difference between a good green beret and a great green beret is his ability to listen.”
Ask your spouse for their opinion on your new business venture and listen more than you speak.
Make sure your tone is respectful. Pay attention to your body language. Go into the conversation with an open mind - don't go into the conversation preparing to shoot down everything your spouse says (this goes both ways).
Pick a time when there are no distractions (especially kids). Don't begin the conversation under pre-existing stress or anger. Timing is everything.
Sit on the idea for a while. Think about it. Pray about it. Run it by people you trust. Over time, your feelings might change one way or another.
Conduct a premortem. Very few things in an entrepreneur's life will be as stressful as the first big failure. It happens to all of us. If your spouse isn't supportive of that worst case scenario, your world will be miserable and your relationship will be tested when it happens. It is crucial to do a premortem to discuss the real risks of your venture. It isn't enough to have a supportive spouse who loves your idea - you need to have discussions to be calibrated on what happens when things go to hell.
Once you and your spouse are on the same page - go for it. Once things get tough, don’t point fingers at each other. You made the decision as a couple, as a family, to go for it. You share the credit. You share the blame. Keep your nose down, keep grinding, and remember, if you never quit, you will never fail.
Your spouse is the Chairman or Chairwoman of the board and you're the CEO! Remember...
Happy spouse = happy house
Be honest with each other. Be honest with yourself. Communicate openly or... crash and burn.
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