What Surviving a Failed Venture Taught Me About Preparing for Abrupt Change Tough times teach lessons more memorable and valuable than any we learn when things are going well.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When my husband and I decided to get married, we were living in different states because he had recently purchased a company and relocated to run his new venture. Once we got married I followed him, totally naïve to the roller coaster I had just stepped onto. I learned some hard lessons about being married to an entrepreneur very early on in our marriage.
Instead of finding my own job, I decided to help fill job holes at the company. I began doing data entry to help get them caught up. (This is how I discovered how much I detest data entry.) Even though I wasn't enjoying the work I was doing, I did enjoy the people we employed and helping to move the business forward. That is what life is like being married to an entrepreneur.
In just five months, my husband and his partner took a failing business and quadrupled the revenue. They worked so hard and things were growing more and more, and then one day it all came crashing down.
That is when they discovered the previous owner hadn't been honest about the numbers and evaluations of the company. They also discovered he lied about the amount of debt the company was in. This was devastating, to say the least, because they had to make the painful decision to keep moving forward or step back. They both decided it was best to not be in business with someone who was dishonest and ended up closing the doors and giving the company back. Then, they filed a lawsuit against him to recover their investment. (Which we finally just settled! Yay!!!)
As a wife, it was incredibly difficult to watch my husband grapple with the stress and feelings of defeat. We had all worked so hard and things were going so well! It was crazy to me that it all changed so drastically from one day to the next. This is a perfect example of why entrepreneurs must be prepared for anything.
Our friends and family expressed concerns about us going through such difficult circumstances so early in our marriage. Luckily, our failed venture made our marriage even stronger. Don't get me wrong, it was really hard and really stressful, but what we learned has made us better prepared for the future.
As the spouse of an entrepreneur, it can be hard to know how to be prepared for a sudden changes. Based on my own experience, here are my top tips for helping you and your entrepreneur stay ready for anything.
1. Build a nest egg.
In my opinion, this is the most important step. If a venture fails and all your investment disappears, it is a lot less stressful when you have money to fall back on. This is what ultimately saved us.
My husband and I agreed early on to put 20 percent of our income each month into a savings account that neither of us touches. We now both feel secure knowing if something comes up, we can pick up and move forward. The key for us is putting it into an account that only I control. My entrepreneur can't touch the money for his business needs. But there are several ways you can make this work for you.
2. Stay within your make.
You often hear people say you should live within your means, but what people "mean to make" doesn't always line up with what you actually make. When you spend money you don't have you will have to play catch up. When that hits at the wrong time, it can add unnecessary stress. Sell items you don't use or downgrade if you need to. Stay focused on the future of your entrepreneur's business goals and live with less so one day you can live with much more.
The purpose of a curb is to provide a barrier. Define your curb by working on open communication with your spouse. Discuss and address expectations, desires, limits and the commitment level you are comfortable with, both financially and emotionally.
No one else can tell you where that edge is in your marriage because it can only be defined by you and your entrepreneur. That edge will provide room for your entrepreneur to explore while allowing you to breathe.
Being married to an entrepreneur is a roller coaster for certain, but it is a ride I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. If you are married to an entrepreneur, or considering it, these tips will help you build a strong foundation that can weather any storm the entrepreneur life may bring.