I know several entrepreneurs who have sacrificed their marriage for their company. It’s easy to understand why with challenges like working an excessive amount of hours. Considering that the Kauffman Foundation reports that around 71 percent of all entrepreneurs are married, that could lead me to believe that there are going to be a lot of divorced entrepreneurs.
While there are some advantages to being a single entrepreneur, the fact of the matter is that when you’re in a healthy personal relationship like a marriage, you’re more likely to succeed.
1. Develops communication skills and techniques.
Communication is key in every relationship, whether if it’s your spouse, co-founder, employees or customers. We need to both say what we like and don't like, and hear the same from the people we are making our way through life with. If your spouse wants to remodel your house, and you don’t care for the paint color that they’ve selected, let them know. It’s better than not saying anything and letting that resentment build-up.
The same goes when starting a business. If your co-founder has a different vision for your business that you can’t agree with, then explain why you don’t agree and what your vision is.
Communication is also more than just voicing our opinions. It helps us describe exactly what we want so that there isn’t any confusion or misunderstandings. Communication is also about listening to what others have to say. Just like you want to be heard, so does the other party that you’re communicating with.
2. Diligence, respect, reliability.
A five-year study by Brittany C. Solomon and Joshua J. Jackson of Washington University in St. Louis found that a spouse's personality has a significant impact on one's occupational success. Interestingly, the only personality trait that this was true for when it came to work outcomes was conscientiousness.
It’s believed that this is because conscientious people are usually more organized, responsible and playful. They also work hard and control their impulses.
"With every standard-deviation increase in a spouse's conscientiousness, an employee is likely to earn about $4,000 more a year," reported the Harvard Business Review. "An employee with an extremely conscientious spouse (two standard deviations above the mean) is 50 percent more likely to get a promotion than an employee with an extremely unconscientious spouse (two standard deviations below the mean)."
3. Planning ahead.
In a marriage, you have to plan ahead. Whether if it’s when you’re saving to purchase your first home, planning for retirement or setting up a college fund for your children. Entrepreneurs also need to plan ahead, specifically for the next three years.
Not only do you have to have a course of action in your marriage and business, you also need to have backup plans, such as an emergency fund, prepared in case things go south.
4. You learn to compromise.
Your business and your marriage are partnerships. There will be conflicting opinions and disagreements. But, people in healthy relationships realize the value of negotiation, which means learning how to compromise.
Learning how to compromise begins with effective and open communication, but it also means that you need to remain calm, ask for something responsible, and be aware that sometimes a compromise isn’t going to be a 50/50 split.
5. It’s good for your health.
A study of 3.5 million American adults discovered that married people have a 5 percent lower chance of cardiovascular disease than those who are single, divorced or widowed.
"Our survey results clearly show that when it comes to cardiovascular disease, marital status really does matter,” said Dr. Carlos Alviar, who led the study at New York University's Langone Medical Center.
“A spouse can help keep doctor’s appointments and provide transportation, making for easier access to health care services,” said Dr. Jeffrey Berger, another senior member of the project and a preventive cardiologist at NYU.
Dr. Berger, added, “It might be that if someone is married, they have a spouse who encourages them to take better care of themselves.”
As an entrepreneur, your health is extremely important to the success of your business. When you’re healthy you’re more productive, focused, and can make better decisions.
6. Constructive criticism.
Criticism isn’t always the easiest pill to swallow. But, you can’t have thin skin when in a marriage or as an entrepreneur. There are going to be times when you’re going to hear something that you may not want to, such as a suggestion on how to cook a steak or respond to customers. Instead of getting upset, learn to embrace criticism when it’s constructive.
Constructive criticism gives you a chance to work on your communication skills, makes your product/services stronger, forces you to think about how you work and gives you a competitive advantage.
7. Knowing which battles to pick.
As anyone who is married will attest to, there are some battles that you’re never going to win. That doesn’t mean that you’re a pushover. It means that sometimes it’s just not worth the fight. For example, if my wife is craving Thai food, then that’s what we’re having for dinner. I might suggest other restaurants -- I’m not the biggest fan of Thai food -- but if she’s set on on it, then it’s just not worth the fight.
The same is true as an entrepreneur. You have to know which battles to fight and which ones you have to move on from. It could be anything from how you respond to negative reviews from customers, whether or not to chase down a late payment, or completely close-up shop.
8. Work-life balance.
One of the greatest advantages that entrepreneurs have over their single counterparts is a work-life balance because it’s something that they deal with every day.
"When you're married, you're always revisiting the priorities, asking yourself: 'What am I doing this for? What's the long-term goal?'" said Melinda Carlisle Brackett, a San Jose, Calif-based therapist and business coach who works with entrepreneurs. "That's a benefit because it forces you to make choices you're probably going to be happy with in the long run."
Maintaining a work-life balance is good for your health and prevents you from getting burnt out. Most importantly, it makes you realize that there’s actually more to life than just your business.