Gaining Spousal Support in Business: 3 Steps for Creating a Supportive Relationship What steps do you take when you’re not getting the support from your spouse or significant other when it comes to your entrepreneurial path? First and foremost, I’m not a relationship expert. But I can share with you my experience of being a happily married entrepreneur for 10 years. In the beginning, my wife, Amy, didn’t have any interest in business. In fact, she couldn’t stand it when I would come home full of excitement regarding my business. She had zero interest in “talking shop”. Now, it’s much different. She absolutely loves business and has swung in the complete opposite direction. For example, I’m talking shop all day long at the office. When I get home, I don’t always want to talk about business, but now she does. So, we are still trying to find the balance LOL. But I think we’re pretty darn close. Here’s the good news… We didn’t just “arrive” at this point. We intentionally took a few action steps that made a big difference. Starting with action step #1… 1) Create space to pursue your individual interests. In the early days of our marriage, one of the things that Amy and I did really well, was to give each other the space to pursue the things that we were passionate about – without judgment. This is SO important. For example, Amy absolutely loves to travel. If she is in any one place for more than two months at a time, she starts to get itchy feet. That girl LOVES to travel (and rarely ever does she like going back to the same place!). And some of the places she wants to travel, quite frankly, I don’t want to go (no offense honey 🙂 ). But, I know it’s important for her. So, we create that container of space so she can still pursue those interests. Every year, she has a “girl’s trip”. Plus, we plan out our family and couple travel well in advance so that she always has something to look forward to. (and I will admit, she even let’s me pick one trip a year! I told you she was a keeper 😉 ). Similarly, there are things that I’m passionate about that she has no interest in. For example, I’m a very competitive guy and have played sports all my life (even won 2 National Soccer Championships while at university… ahhh the glory days). The thing is, I still love to play. And I’ll go to great lengths to play at a high level (I used to drive 140+ minutes round trip twice a week to play a 40 minute game of indoor soccer). Deep down, she thinks that’s crazy. Me? That’s absolutely normal! LOL But here’s the important lesson… She gives me that container of space to pursue my individual interests without judgement. We give each other that freedom. And we know it’s important for each other’s sanity so we are intentional about making sure the other person is pursuing those things. Which brings me to action step #2… 2) Create space to be together. See how this works? The first action step is for you to do your thing and your spouse or partner to do theirs. Now I’m suggesting you also do the opposite by intentionally crafting time to do things you both enjoy. Sounds obvious right? But it’s not. You’ve got to make time to just be a loving husband or wife doing things that you both enjoy together. That may mean turning your entrepreneurial brain off for a while so you can actually be with each other. If your spouse isn’t supportive in your business adventures, they may be overwhelmed by you talking about it non-stop. I get it. When you are starting out, in the midst of growing, or even if you have a thriving company it’s all you want to talk about, right? It’s exciting. Things are happening! There’s opportunities and there’s people you’re meeting and all that good stuff. And I understand, when you’re excited, you want to share it with your loved ones as much as possible. But the reality of it is, if they’re not excited about it . . . it can just be too much. This even extends beyond your spouse. It extends into friend groups as well. It took a while for me to get comfortable with the fact that I can talk about certain things with certain friends and I talk about other things with other friends. That’s because I know that some friends will not connect or relate to some of the things that interest me but they may connect with other interests I have. Same goes with your partner. If they aren’t into business, talking non-stop about business is going to drive them crazy. So identify those environments and those groups where you feel comfortable and safe to have those kinds of discussions and don’t push it with the people who it may not be ideal with. And most importantly, make the time to actually do things you both enjoy. For example, remember when I said I love sports? Well there is one sport that Amy does enjoy… downhill skiing. In fact, she’s VERY good at it and would kick my butt every time if we ever had an “official” race. So every year, we make a point to go skiing together. Even though I’m an average skier, she puts up with me on the slopes because doing it together and being active outside is where the connection is made. Another thing we do together is help others in our community. It fills both our hearts when we can help others in need. So we regularly pursue activities within our community where we get to do this together (and with the kids). And doing this creates GREAT conversation and a joint sense of gratitude for what we have in our lives. Now I have one final example for you… and this one is a duesy (we’ll see if you get the lesson behind the lesson). You ready? Ok here goes… Amy and I also love real estate. So another thing we’ll commonly do together is take a drive and look at houses. And when we do, guess what happens? We start dreaming together. We discover what each other likes and doesn’t like. And through this conversation, the dreams start to come to life (HINT HINT). And guess what happens when your spouse who doesn’t like business starts dreaming about possibilities? The inevitable question… “What would need to happen for us to make this a reality?” SHHHHBAAAMMM That’s the ticket my friend. That was the question that sparked the entrepreneurial bug within Amy. Because once she began dreaming, she realized that the most effective way to bridge the gap between our current reality and the one we were dreaming about was through our business. Now I’m not saying this will magically happen for you. But what I am saying is that doing things together gives you the opportunity to have conversation. And if you sprinkle in some conversation about what you’d like your future to look like… well… you just never know what could happen 😉 Here’s the takeaway… You want to make sure that you A, allocate time together, and B, make sure it’s time sharing the things that you both love to do and talk about. (and be sure to slip in a conversation about your “perfect future”… you can thank me later 🙂 ). So here’s the third action step… 3) Surround yourself with people who are on the same path. “Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with people who are on the same path.” -Stu McLarenTweet ThisYou should have an outlet where you can talk shop, trade strategies back and forth and build each other up. I’ve been in a Mastermind in some form or fashion for almost 15 years. Some were paid groups. Some were peer groups. Some were big. Some were small. Some met more regularly than others, but it didn’t matter. The value of the Mastermind comes from being surrounded with people who you feel safe sharing your entrepreneurial experiences with. This is a group where you are able to ask questions and get feedback. They become your sounding board because they “get it”. They’re in the trenches too. And that support is necessary for you to be able to move things to the next level. I can tell you that my business would not have grown anywhere near the pace that it has grown had it not been for a Mastermind in which I participated. If you’re not in a Mastermind yet or you haven’t found a group of other entrepreneurs where you can exchange ideas, I highly recommend that you do so. And it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of paid masterminds (I run one called the IMPACT Mastermind). But if you don’t join a paid group, just get together with a peer group. The key is, you want to be organized so that you meet on a regular basis. Trust me when I say, you need that supportive environment… regardless of whether your spouse is on board or not. That group of people will become your cheerleaders. They are going to support you and help get you to the next level. And when that happens, guess what else will happen? There’s a good chance you can win your spouse over then too – especially if you’ve had that allocated spouse time 😉 Remember these steps for creating a supportive relationship with your spouse: Create space to pursue your individual interests. It’s important to take time to do the things you love to do. Create space to be together. You need time to just be together, doing things that are important to both of you. Surround yourself with people who are on the same path. This gives you an outlet to get support and talk shop without overwhelming your loved ones. Your turn: How are you creating a supportive environment?