Relationships are hard. Marriage? Even harder. Being married to an entrepreneur? Very hard indeed. But what happens (and we all know that things happen) when two entrepreneurs fall in love with one another? Double the profit? Maybe. Double the challenges? Definitely.
To make it work, you’ve got to leave doubts and fear behind — or at least learn to tune them out. It also helps a lot to know in advance what you’re getting into. If you’re already an entrepreneur, you might think you do know … but then again, you’ve never been in a relationship with you.
If you want to keep your love and your business(es) afloat, go into it realizing that there are 3 realities:
Sometimes it’s not personal, it’s just business
Entrepreneurs don’t always know when to turn off. They don’t always even know how to turn off. Anyone who has any kind of personal relationship with an entrepreneur is at risk of being “de-prioritized” at a given moment, especially if something comes up that is threatening to their business.
Even when things are going well, entrepreneurs have a tendency to work even when they’re not working, and not giving your partner enough attention can put a relationship dead in the water. You might think if there’s two of you, you’ll both understand. Maybe — but you’ll also both be neglected.
Being emotional is par for the course
Entrepreneurs go through a lot, sometimes on a daily basis. A good business day can leave them euphoric, a bad one can make them emotionally unreachable. Anger or frustration might be accidentally taken out on a partner, and happy moments can feel as if they’re private, rather than a “couple moment.”
It can be somewhat overwhelming to deal with all these emotions, especially since deep down, an emotionally stable partner is what most of us want. We also want to see happiness in the lives of people we love. For entrepreneurs, happiness is a fickle mistress. Accepting entrepreneurs for who they are emotionally is a must.
The competition will be real
When two entrepreneurs find themselves struck by Cupid’s arrow, it’s not just one another’s time, attention, and focus that will be competed over. They will inevitably and literally compete. Whose business is bigger and more profitable? Whose clients are more powerful and influential? Whose mission is it to make the biggest difference in the world?
A lot of the competing may be fun and even flirtatious (which is a good thing), but it will also get heated sometimes. Overall, that’s fine. Competitive people like to have someone to compete with. If not handled sensitively, though, competition can easily be a source of damaged feelings, so tread carefully.
It’s not all bad
Trust me, a dual (or should I say ‘duel’) entrepreneurial partnership has its selling points. I speak from experience, so I know it’s possible to not only make it work but to have it be one of the most rewarding aspects of your life.
However, recognizing the challenges and potential pitfalls upfront will only serve to help prepare you for what’s to come, should you choose to go down this path. For all their faults and inconsistencies, entrepreneurs are lovable for their neediness. If you can find a way to give each other that necessary support, then you’ll have a lifetime of happy negotiations moments ahead.