Partners in Life & Business
Entrepreneurship can provide today’s military spouse with much needed professional stability as they navigate the life of service. However, despite its many benefits, starting a business ranks high on the “top marriage stressors” list. Even if your spouse’s day job involves a uniform, they can invest in your business through other resources.
Here are a few tips for starting a business and staying (happily) married:
Establish Good Boundaries
Small Business Trends reported 69 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs start their business at home. While that spare bedroom or revamped garage might seem like the perfect incubator space for your start-up, the constant presence of your home-based business in your family’s home life can present a challenge. Whether it’s checking emails at 11:55 p.m., or filling holiday orders as part of your Saturday morning routine, it’s easy to let your business take over when good boundaries aren’t in place.
While operating a home-based business, I maintain two different phone lines — one personal, one professional — to assist with preventing business communications from taking over my life. Additionally, I’ve learned to establish boundaries regarding office versus living space and strive to prevent this month’s batch of invoices from creeping over onto our dining room table. While establishment of physical boundaries might seem rather obvious, it’s a practice that’s often easier said than done with today’s tech-saturated entrepreneurs.
Many entrepreneurs rely on personal savings and family loans to get their business off the ground. Maybe it’s to purchase your first round of inventory or build a high-tech website — regardless of where your solicited capital comes from, you should always have a written plan for how you will manage business revenue and expenses. Sit down with your spouse and commit to a financial plan for your business you both can agree on.
Don’t fall into the trap of never paying back your investors (even if it’s your spouse) or draining all business profits as personal income without reinvestment. Even if your spouse isn’t involved as a 50/50 partner in your business, maintaining clear communication regarding your company’s financial plans and performance can help ease tension and prevent money misunderstandings within your marriage.
A 2013 study by The Alternative Board found about half of all U.S. entrepreneurs worked 50 or more hours per week, with 20 percent working 60 hours or more per week. Now that’s a lot of hours! As anyone who’s launched a successful business can attest, putting in a lot of time is a typical requirement. Unfortunately, many of these self-employment challenges can come at the expense of the entrepreneur’s health and relationships.
When managing your business, don’t overlook managing yourself. Work with your spouse to honor established working hours and communicate when those overwhelming feelings of exhaustion begin to creep in. No one knows you better than your spouse — encourage them to hold you accountable to prioritizing your own well-being along with business performance.
Entrepreneurship offers today’s military spouses a way to achieve professional stability both during and following their spouse’s service. While the challenges of running your own business can be daunting, a supportive relationship with your spouse can help alleviate the strain. Few relationships are as strong as a good military marriage. My husband and I have a saying, “if we got through the war together, we can get through anything.”
— Hannah Becker
About the Author:
Hannah Becker is an author, entrepreneur, professor, and military spouse. She currently provides millennial marketing and public relations consulting services through Becker Marketing & PR, and owns the grass fed beef operation Willow Springs Farm. Hannah is passionate about military spouses achieving their professional goals. Follow Hannah on Twitter at @MotivatedGenY and learn more about her professional journey at: http://www.themotivatedmillennial.com/