How does a startup life look like from the perspective of an entrepreneur's better half?
Editor's note: An entrepreneur's life is not easy. It is a long grinding journey full of turmoil. Personal relationships often take a bashing and it is important to have an understanding partner to keep the boat sailing. Here is a perspective of a entrepreneur's better half on the whole situation. Names have not been disclosed on request and the post works both ways.
An entrepreneur would never ask his or her other half before starting of a new journey after reaching a goal. He (or she) would wake up with an idea in his mind or it would come to him at any given point of time. With that moment, he starts on this journey of following the (new) call. As a life partner, you are not involved most of the times in this sparking moments and you don't usually have a say. That would be against the nature of a free-spirited entrepreneur. Ideas come at any given point of time and no one would know which idea would be followed next. Often, without even knowing, you would find yourself in the first steps of the journey and then realize. When it is revealed, your intuition most of the times would have already told you. In the end, you know him better than he knows himself.Once the next step is clear, he automatically starts the engine that is required to get on the road to make this 'one thing' happen. You would see the person nights over nights thinking, making notes, calling people, running into endless rounds of discussions in coffee shops around the city. Joining meet-ups of every form to figure out the right people who can contribute or support him on this journey.
If a relationship wasn't already hard work, then you have no idea of the chaos that you get into with an entrepreneur. He's always on the go, always in the hurry to finish a task, to do one more call, answer one more email.
There are times when he won't talk, his mind and attention would be so fully occupied that he would hardly notice anything else. He would not switch off the laptop in the night and run out without breakfast as the next meeting is already waiting for him. When starting a company, there is a lot that needs to be paid attention to. You would have had no idea unless you've been on that journey alongside. You even start picking up tasks in case your background allows you to help. It's some times nice to have experience in a different field, it brings a new perspective. Through living with him (or her), you start breathing his ideas too and you will develop a valid opinion too. Anyways, you'll end up falling in love with the idea and will make them your own. The journey becomes yours in a very different way. You'll learn more about life and yourself than you could have imagined before.
He will use long weekends to finish pending tasks, while you may want to have a long drive holding hands and dreaming in the middle of nowhere. You'll have to show understanding on each and every level and I mean every - business, friends, family, team, investors and the person. He won't ask you to pick up this task, nor he would go without you, it's just that his mind is always working on something else. There are times when your patience will be stretched beyond limits without the other person even recognising it. The only advice I can give you, go on with your life and your love. The other person won't know it maybe during the journey or in specific moments, but he or she needs your support. No matter how many people praise their efforts and no matter who gives them a kudos for the idea, it's always your support that means the most. You're the one who reminds him of his overall goal.
And if we were to talk about qualities, you've to learn to listen more than you talk. Because he or she is the one who will keep talking, improving presentation skills, talking out loud all the ideas, brainstorming, repeating meetings minutes and to do list, listing out all the hiring challenges and client queries.
I could go on and on... In the end one thing is for sure, all entrepreneurs are workaholics and they stay it throughout their lives. They work so much that it doesn't feel like work. It feels like who they are and what they do. They feel alive when they work. If you don't buy into that part your life together won't end up very happy. But what you can do and have to do, because s/he won't see it, is to help understand that life doesn't only happen in front of the laptop or when you check another 'to do' off the list. There are moments that will give him strength that won't happen in his office. You remind him that it's great to have goals, but they are the details. Your vision is the ultimate dream and you help him keep dreaming. Always keep dreaming together.
All said and done, the entrepreneurial journey works out better with you on board. S/he needs a net under him, (believe me they will find it out or he knows it already) and perhaps the only one who can ever provide that is a wife.