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Spousal Support

Lack of involvement doesn't mean your significant other doesn't support your business venture.

Q: I'm in the process of putting together a business plan for a new homebased business. It's 90 percent complete, and I'm having problems getting my wife to support my new business idea. We've talked about the subject a number of times. She insists she won't have any part in the business. I'm concerned with this and the effect it may have in the future when most of my time will be devoted to the business. What are your thoughts?

A: Your wife could be entirely supportive of your business and still refuse to be involved with it. Let's be entirely clear about what it can look like to be supportive. What I interpret from your question is you're assuming that if she refuses to work in the business, that automatically translates to a lack of support. That's an invalid assumption.

What your wife is doing is setting a boundary. She's saying to you, "OK, I support you starting this business. I give you my blessing-go for it. But don't ask me to be your partner or your employee." Why is she saying this? I don't know. Maybe your business doesn't interest her. Perhaps she's afraid of being turned into your secretary, and she's afraid she'll get stuck with all the work you don't want to do.

Perhaps she already senses this business could take over your lives together. Perhaps she doesn't want to work with you, so she wants some area of her life that's just hers and not about the business. From what you describe, I hear her saying something more like, "I support you doing this business, but please don't count on me to help you." That is not the same thing as not being supportive.

Unsupportive would be, "You are not going to quit your job and start a business. No way!" Unsupportive is, "This business is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of" or "You can start this business if you want to, but you'd better never be late for dinner. You'd better not spend any of our savings to get it going. And if you think I'm going to put up with late working hours or your business taking over the dining room table, you can forget about it!"

From what you've told me, she's warned you that she won't work in the business but she is encouraging you to do what you need to do. If that's true, be grateful for her emotional support. As the business flourishes, she may volunteer to help you in practical ways-or she may not. But the most important thing is whether she continues to encourage you to do what you want to do.

Azriela Jaffe is the founder of Anchored Dreams and author of several books, including Honey, I Want to Start my Own Business: A Planning Guide for Couplesand Starting from No: Ten Strategies to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Succeed in Business. To receive her free online newsletter for entrepreneurial couples and families, e-mail azriela@mindspring.com with "subscribe entmag" in the subject.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.

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