Marriage and Startup: Five Things to Get Right

Balancing the demands of a marriage, family and startup can be tough. My wife, Stephanie, has been an integral part of any success we’ve had at Powderhook. She doesn’t have a title, tasks or projects, yet her role is essential. We’ve been in business a little over a year, and our marriage is stronger than ever. This is our second go-around as a startup couple (we sold our first business in 2012), so I thought I’d share some of our experience. Here are five things I believe we’ve gotten right:

1) Starting a business is a family decision. Stephanie was part of deciding to start a business in the first place; she had a lot to say about what type of business, how much we would invest, and how long I could go without a paycheck.

2) We set boundaries. Dinner is at 6:45. I’m there. Once the kids hit the hay I jump back on and get to work. It’s important to us that we get a few minutes to talk every day, so I don’t bring the computer to bed. Both are seemingly little things, but these boundaries help us prioritize in the midst of an otherwise chaotic time.

3) Stephanie knows our team, problem, product, customers, and partners. She’s come with me to trade shows and she’s stayed up late with me testing our product. If starting a business is a family decision, growing one is a family commitment.

4) Grace. Unending grace. Entrepreneurship can be an exhausting, stressful and a downright frustrating experience. Stephanie lets me vent; she senses when I need time to come down from a tough day, and she picks up all my slack around the house. On top of that, she is our family’s breadwinner right now. To do that with a smile takes strength and grace.

5) We make time to be alone. The love language of the spouse of almost every entrepreneur is “time.” Ask a successful businessperson you know about their marriage. Most will tell you they are more proud of their marriage than their business. There is literally nothing that happens at your business that is so important that you can’t focus a few hours a week on your spouse. Plan it, send calendar invites, ritualize it, whatever. Do it.

Eric Dinger is the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook, a startup that helps people hunt and fish more often.

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