Marriage is hard enough for two people who have stable, reliable jobs providing a dependable source of income. But imagine the extra challenge of keeping your marriage happy and healthy when one of you is a risk-loving entrepreneur? We talked to several people in this situation to see what advice they could share that would help other married entrepreneurs from ending up in divorce court.
Julie is an entrepreneur currently living in London, where she is building a company that offers tech camp holidays to teenagers. She’s also lived in Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston, Geneva, Senegal, Paris and Madrid. “You can see that I’m someone who doesn’t like to stay in one place too long, “she tells us. “So my spouse is also open to not putting down roots in any one place. We love to think of ourselves as Global Nomads…which is why we are renters, not homeowners. We don’t even own a car! These things aren’t that important to us. What we do love is coming up with an idea—like offering tech camps to teenagers so that they can learn how to build apps and create their own video games—and then selling our franchise and going on to the next new thing.”
For Julie, having a partner as curious about living in different cultures as she is is essential to her marital happiness. “Oh, for sure. If I were married to someone who hated to travel or take risks, we’d be divorced in a second!”
William is an entrepreneur who was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and now resides in Mountain View. “I think living so close to Silicon Valley had a big influence on my decision to become an entrepreneur, “he states. “I’ve started up five different and very successful companies, all in the data-security sector. But I give great kudos to my wife, Linda, as being the foundation of my success. She’s my rock, my constant, and without her, I’d never had the freedom to take on the risks I’ve taken.”
William’s wife is happy to stay in the background, making sure that William’s life runs smoothly so he has nothing to worry about except his next project. “For me, it would have been difficult to marry another entrepreneur. I needed someone who is the opposite of me, someone grounded and organized. Linda is all that and more.”
Brad and Emily are a true team, both entrepreneurs. They work out of their home in Boca Raton, Florida. “Both of us had founded a couple of companies before we met each other at a startup networking event in Miami,” says Emily. “I knew who Brad was because his name is big in the start-up industry. I also knew that our personalities would complement each other.”
Both Brad and Emily are high-energy people, ready and willing to take a gamble on what they think is going to be trending. “We totally understand each other. If one of us must get on a plane to make a pitch at the last minute, disrupting dinner or even a vacation plan, that’s just part of our lives as entrepreneurs. We don’t get mad. We get rich,” Brad says with a smile.
The best marriage advice: don’t run your company from your house
Rent office space or set up something in a co-working space, but don’t make your home your office.
Melody is an experienced entrepreneur who has built two thriving box subscription businesses. “I started out initially in our living room,” Melody tells us. “It was fine at first. But then the business took off, and I was packing, labeling, and mailing dozens of boxes whose stuff was spread out all over the dining room table. My husband and kids had nowhere to sit and eat, and it was causing huge friction in our lives. And because I was at home, no one respected that I needed this time to work. The kids would ask me for help with their homework when I had orders to get out.” Melody took out a small business loan and rented office space in a nearby industrial park. “It was the best business decision I could have made. It literally saved my marriage AND helped me have the time and space to create a sustainable business plan that has made us financially quite comfortable today.”
Secret to a sustainable marriage: detach your business from your wife’s business
Randall and his wife Nicole used to be partners in various entrepreneurial ventures. “After several years building companies together, it became clear that we were each going in different professional directions,” he states. “We loved each other very much, so it wasn’t a question of divorcing each other. We just needed to separate our business visions, and each does our own thing, professionally speaking. This has saved our marriage.” Randall recognizes that as a romantic partner, Nicole is his soul mate. But not as a business partner. “I’m glad that we both understood the necessity of splitting off from each other, “Nicole chimes in. “I think if we had remained partners in business, we would not have remained married.”
There you have it: valuable words from some of the experts in the field. Being married to an entrepreneur may have its own unique challenges, but these couples have shown us that it is possible to combine business with pleasure and create both great companies and great marriages.